Mr. Popper’s Penguins – 2011
Directed by Mark Waters
Starring Jim Carrey, Carla Guigino, Angela Lansbury, Philip Baker Hall, Clark Gregg, Madeline Carroll, Maxwell Perry Cotton
Written by Sean Anders, John Morris, Jared Stern based on the book by Richard and Florence Atwater
Looking at Jim Carrey’s career, I am astonished to find that he hasn’t been in more than 12 films in the last 10 years. He seems to be everywhere. In fact, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is Carrey’s first film since A Christmas Carol in 2009. This is probably why he seems so incredibly relaxed. Throughout the film, his Tom Popper acts as if he is in the midst of one really big, wonderful dream. Not even when getting pooped upon by The Captain, which is the only Penguin I can name, does he seem to be too bothered.
Tom Popper is on the verge of a big deal which would involve buying the Tavern on the Green and making it, well, less Taverny and less Greeny. This is a bad thing, according to his ex-wife and his kids. The family situation seems only mildly disconcerting for all involved. Then he gets a package from his long gone father. One can tell from the title what is contained therein.
The kids like the birds, of course, and Mr. Popper does too, to the tune of an endless amount of money and free time spent in their care. The filmmakers treat annoyance of his condo neighbors as a source of amusement. All I can say is that the amount of ice he has in his apartment would be an invitation for to a litany of water damage lawsuits in any part of the real world.
This not being the real world, one is forced to evaluate the effectiveness of the Penguins. For the purposes of being cute, the birds do their job. There is one for every kind of gently contrived annoyance one could see a flightless bird providing. In truth the movie goes down quite well for the casual viewer.
The most notable drawback in the film is not any of the special effects. They are good enough for a matinee. Instead, the final move when the bad guy in the zoo escape (Gregg), a zookeeper of all people, gets hoisted, quite awkwardly, by his own petard. That petard is a bird catching rope connected to the end of a stick. It is not a smooth transition, as Carrey grabs the device from Gregg and twists it to encircle both of his hands. In fact, it is not a proud moment for either actor. The disappointment is palpable, but more so for Agent Colson than the guy who used to talk out of his butt.
You may really like this film after one viewing. Don’t take this as a guarantee it will be half as good the second time.
(*** out of *****)
“It was pretty cute. And it was nice. And fun looking. There was this part, where Mr. Popper, he put snow in his whole house (apartment). He made it into a fun land.”
How many of the Penguins can you name?
“Captain, Bitey, Stinky, Loudey, Nimrod, Lovey, and I don’t exactly remember any more.
The part I did not like was where the bad guy (Gregg) took out a shovel and he threatened to hit the family.
The saddest part was when Captain laid an egg and it didn’t hatch. It was a non-hatching egg.”
Elyse adds: “They had to eat it.”
“No they didn’t, Ellie!”
(***** out of *****)