The Portable Door
Everything that could possibly go wrong for Paul Carpenter does just that on the day of his job interview for a London café. Through strange coincidences the young man (played by Patrick Gibson) lands at a mysterious company, who are also hiring, and a paid internship seemingly drops into his lap. Soon he learns that this is precisely what JW Wells & Co specialise in: orchestrating chance encounters and provoking fate. When Paul is sent on a secret mission by CEO Humphrey Wells (Christoph Waltz), a bizarre web of intrigue starts to unfold.
An adaptation of the young adult novel series by Tom Holt, The Portable Door revels in the creation of this world – to an extent, the plot doesn’t even fully take advantage of the established magical guidelines. Perhaps meant to be the first instalment of a new franchise (much like the eponymous novel the script is based on), the film introduces a number of intriguingly quirky characters that are of little significance to the story at hand.
Young audiences will be pleased with director Jeffrey Walker’s focus on the adolescent characters and their development. Parents who may be watching with them will be entertained by the recognisable bureaucratic elements, such as the clever opening that suggests we all skip the fine print. Those tuning in for Sam Neill or Miranda Otto sadly will not get their money’s worth, as many of the established actors and their abilities are under-used. Waltz is the notable exception: playing both Humphrey Wells and his father, he gets to display some of his range and clearly had fun with this gimmick and the underlying duplicity. Gibson is a charmingly bumbling Paul, dextrously navigating the feature’s humour, even if it feels that, for such a whimsical setup, some of the comedic stunts certainly lack imagination.
The Portable Door is a fun little feature for children and newcomers to the fantasy genre, but a little unsatisfactory for hard-boiled fans of its ilk.
The Portable Door is released on Sky and NowTV on 7th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Portable Door here: