The Portable Door (Fantasy, Family) [Based on Novel] (2023)
Director: Jeffrey Walker
Writer: Leon Ford, Tom Holt (Based on Novel by)
Stars: Patrick Gibson, Sophie Wilde, Christoph Waltz, Sam Neill
Barely able to pay rent, planning to apply for a job at a local coffee store, a young man's morning goes amiss in every way imaginable. Miraculously he finds another company asking for applicants where he applies and is surprisingly hired without fully knowing what his job entails.
Based upon Tom Holt's fantasy novel, "The Portable Door" has been adapted by Australian director Jeffrey Walker. In the same vein as films and stories like "Harry Potter" and even "Narnia" in some sense, it follows a fresh-faced individual being introduced to a magical world hidden from view. It has been filmed in Queensland, Australia, and partly in Brisbane whilst being produced by Stan, Sky, MEP Capital, Arclight Films International, The Jim Henson Company and Story Bridge Films while being distributed by Madman Entertainment in Australia and MGM+ in the U.S.
Sharing a place with an unreliable roommate, Paul Carpenter struggles to pay the rent. Rushing to his latest job application every morning task goes wrong somehow. Finally arriving, his luck doesn't get any better… His misfortune, however, leads him to another company that is also looking for applicants. Confused as to what job he's applying for, his application is accepted.
Coincidence is a tricky aspect of life, and often things are not quite as they seem. "The Portable Door" offers an alternative reality where our lives are guided, and ancient bureaucratic principles are still at work, but even with things figured out, more seems to be going on than meets the eye.
With such an amount of fantasy novels, there's always something to be adapted; while the "Harry Potter" franchise is primarily set within the Wizarding World, "The Portable Door" is most reminiscent of the "Fantastic Beasts" spin-off taking place within the real world. Following an eccentric young man in this case… The jovial impression perfectly fits the target audience while also being surprisingly enigmatic. Foreshadowing clues as it moves on, it's nice to see such details no matter how obvious, and it makes you pay closer attention to what is happening on the screen.
It's good that "The Portable Door" does not take itself seriously, sometimes feeling like it tries too hard, but like a hidden gem early in this film year. It's not often a possible new franchise in the same vein as those previously mentioned begins. But, and it's too bad the bubble bursts rather quickly… It doesn't seem to reach that potential. While personally, I'm not familiar with the novel by Tom Holt, there's much pushback from readers, concluding Walker's film is over-simplified and rushed, losing character development and narrative that should've built the universe to come.
As for those introduced to Holt's creation for the first time, it is actually fairly enjoyable. It doesn't have the budget of more popular counterparts but provides a fun and exciting experience nonetheless. Even if during the finale sequence, it becomes more difficult to understand, unravelling secrets hidden before. The aforementioned clues and foreshadowing also seem to disappear after the halfway point, which is a shame.
While I admittedly thoroughly enjoyed watching Walker's adaptation, it has to be noted that the lack of adherence to the source material, or rather the simplified nature of it, degrades the result. That said, this is nevertheless an IP deserving a film, and perhaps in due time, it can be rebooted with further budget and production behind it.
The Portable Toilet.