Review: ‘The Portable Door’

Sam Neill And Christoph Waltz Star In Enchanting But Forgettable YA Fantasy Adaptation

Things just will not seem to go right for Paul Carpenter (Patrick Gibson) in The Portable Door. His alarm does not ring, his toast is burnt, he is always running late, and most importantly… he cannot get a job. He is friendly enough, the lovable goofball, but his borderline oblivious honesty can be a turnoff to potential employers. This morning being just like the rest, Paul is racing to another interview he is running late for. Then a strange series of circumstances lead Paul into the offices of J.W. Wells & Co. Before he knows it, Dennis Tanner (Sam Neill) leads him into a board room where his interview begins. Paul stumbles and bumbles his way through it, seemingly not impressing CEO Humphrey Wells (Christoph Waltz).

Paul is shocked to get the job offer that night for a paid internship. Joining the other new intern Sophie Pettingel (Sophie Wilde), Paul begins on tedious tasks with Tanner breathing down his neck. Paul and Sophie quickly realize that there is more to J.W. Wells & Co. than meets the eye. The baby dragon running through their office being an obvious sign of that. Sophie begins learning how to use her telekinetic abilities while Wells personally tasks Paul with finding a portable door. As Paul and Sophie become closer, they both begin to question exactly what Wells wants with the door and how he is planning to use it.

Jeffrey Walker directs the film while Leon Ford wrote the screenplay. Both Walker and Ford’s expertise has primarily been in Television. The Portable Door is one of the first feature-length projects that each has worked one. The film is based off the Tom Holt novel of the same name. It is the first book in the seven book J. W. Wells & Co. series. This means there is certainly a chance for more films to follow.

Walker and Ford are able to establish a charming atmosphere. The script has countless subtle jokes and clever dialogue. This paired with whimsical music throughout and humorous touches by Walker help to build this new magical world. It provides an enchanting aura throughout the film. The acting does not blow you away, but Neill, Waltz, and co. do enough to bring the story to life. At almost 2 hours the film is pushing the upper limit, and at times does drag a bit.

One of the key issues with The Portable Door is the lack of clarity surrounding whom the film is best suited for. It may very well be too intense for children, but not intense enough for teens and young adults. The film and story have potential, but is stuck in a no mans land. With it only being the first in a series, there is certainly time to solidify this if given the opportunity. As it stands, The Portable Door does have enough humor and heart that it may be worth a watch. However, when the dust settles, it will most likely be a film that one forgets unless strong sequels follow.

The Portable Door is streaming now on MGM+.