>> Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011)

Title: Mr. Popper's Penguins

Genre: Family

Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury

Director: Mark Waters

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox

Runtime: 95 minutes

In Theatres: June 17, 2011

MPAA Rating: PG

Rating: 1.94 (out of 4.00)

Grade: C-

Official Site


Some of the penguin's in the film are real and some of them are not.

Based on the original children’s book by Richard & Florence Atwater, Mr. Popper’s Penguin’s hit’s the big screen with major star Jim Carrey attached as Mr. Popper and a slew of other known actors and actresses including, Angela Lansbury, Carla Gugino, Jeffrey Tambor, and the immortal Frank Welker providing the voices of The Penguins. Directed by Mark Waters (Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, The Spiderwick Chronicles).

I was fortunate enough to land a screening that was quite possibly 60% children, that being the demographic for Mr. Popper’s Penguins. What better way to find out if the film is a success or a dud then to witness the enjoyment of the films intended audience and combine that with my own thoughts? Well, first off, the opening short is yet another Ice Age cartoon starring the resilient and ever perseverant Scratch. Both adults and kids laughed throughout. While I’m not a big fan of Ice Age I rather enjoyed this wonderful little short (available for view at youtube under FoxMovies). What a great way to warm up our laugh reflexes.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins begins with a young Popper, constantly at the ready for a transmission from his mostly absentee Father over a ham radio. In the future the young Popper, now played by Jim Carrey, is a successful businessman who buys up real estate using any technique that gets the job done. He’s a somewhat cold and distant person who has no friends and a troubled relationship with his ex-wife and children. I know, I know. We’ve seen Carrey this way before in Liar, Liar only in that film he was a lawyer and the penguins were replaced with a curse. Like that film it takes some outside interference, this time penguins, for Carrey's character to re-discover himself and what's important.

Long story short, for a film intended for children and a theater filled with children, the film received a good hearty laugh when Carrey was hit in the crotch with a soccer ball and when a penguin pooped on his shoe. Other then that it was relatively quiet in the theater. Try as the film might to make something original out of a story that’s been told many times before, you were still getting Jim Carrey playing himself. The same Jim Carrey that dates back as far as his Ace Ventura days, and nothing more as far as the writing goes, that basically comes down to some toilet humor and blunt force trauma for a few giggles.

Some of the stand out performances in the film come down to the penguins, as they do have some moments where their cute and cuddly nature pulls at the heartstrings, as well as Ophelia Lovibond who plays Mr. Popper’s secretary Pippi. Pippi is a source of enjoyment throughout as almost every word she utters begins with a P. Her character has some great qualities that you might assume are going to lead Popper in a direction that never occurs. Maxwell Perry Cotton, who plays Popper’s son is also credited for offering up a bit of liveliness and enthusiasm to a mostly dull affair. What it comes down to character-wise is a lot of one dimensional characters with one dimensional problems that have plagued vague cinematic snores like this since long before I was born. You've got the guy whose got issues getting close to his family, is a work-a-holic, and who needs a life lesson. A daughter with issues as far reaching as liking a boy and no problems with an absentee father. It's all so mundane. If I can suggest anything to a potential viewer of this film it would be to wait for it to come out on DVD or BD. As always, final judgment is yours.

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Enjoyed it

Took my 8 year old to see it and we had a blast!

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