congreve cube

A friend encouraged me to watch Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007) recently. I added it to my Netflix queue and forgot about it, but when I noticed it playing on TV, I DVR’d it for a rainy day movie. Not long afterwards, I curled up in bed with the 4yo, thinking she’d be glued to it while I could read my book.

I couldn’t forward through the commercials fast enough. The story follows Mr. Magorium during his last days on earth (after 243 years!), while his dear friend and young employee Mahoney attempts to change his mind about leaving.


It’s his time. No matter how much you want him to stick around, Mr. Magorium “returns” to the Universe. (It was more like he allowed his physical reality to dissolve and the Universe to shine through, to acknowledge his part within it once again… but that’s another post).

The magical Wonder Emporium throws a final temper tantrum, and turns to shades of black and gray in mourning. The magic is gone.

Before Mr. Magorium returns, he entrusts a block of wood to Mahoney called the Congreve Cube. She pores over it throughout the movie, trying to figure out how to open it, or what it’s supposed to do. It isn’t until the very end, when she’s struggling with her own feelings of doubt and lack of purpose and non-magical abilities, when someone else shows faith in her. The unimaginative “counting mutant” (accountant) — who, it turns out, needs the Emporium as much as it needs Mahoney — is the one to finally shine the light of truth for her when he asks “What if someone, just once, believed in it?”

*cue swells of orchestral music and bad conductor arm sweeps*

The doubting Thomas versus the pierced hands. Or maybe it would be the non-seeing yet-still believing disciples versus the empty tomb.

Which one are you?

Are you the mutant or the wooden block?

Other favorite lines:

“Unlikely adventures require unlikely tools.”

“With faith, love, this block, and a counting mutant, you may find yourself somewhere you’ve never imagined.”

“Light bulbs die, my sweet. I will depart.”

“All stories, even the ones we love, must eventually come to an end and when they do, it’s only an opportunity for another story to begin.”

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