Review: Mr. Popper's Penguins
PLOT: A New York real-estate shark, Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey), finds himself in the possession of six penguins, left to him by his late, explorer father. At first, Popper's penguins make his life a living hell, but soon he grows attached to them, especially once they start to bridge the gap between Popper, and his estranged family, including his ex-wife, Amanda (Carla Gugino).
REVIEW: MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS is what it is. It's a big-budget family comedy from Twentieth Century Fox featuring one slightly faded mega-star (Jim Carrey), and a half-dozen adorable penguins. Why penguins? Because, thanks to MARCH OF THE PENGUINS and HAPPY FEET, penguins are white-hot, and I'm sure the studio thought Carrey and penguins would be a sure-fire formula for success.
Meh, not quite, as it turns out. To be fair, I'm not the ideal critic for a film like MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS. POPPER is squarely aimed at the kiddie audience, and sure enough, there were several kids present at the matinée I checked out that were howling with laughter throughout. In that regard, I suppose POPPER accomplishes exactly what it set out to do.
However, if you're a Carrey fan that's over twelve, this is not the film for you. It's too bad, but Carrey seems to be in a rut these days, at least as far as his big-budget comedies go. The other, cool Jim Carrey, that's popped up in films like THE TRUMAN SHOW, MAN ON THE MOON, and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is alive and well, as shown by the recent I LOVE YOU PHILIP MORRIS. But, when it comes to his bread and butter- comedies, the aging Carrey seems bored.
I suppose you can't blame him, as he's been making family comedies like POPPER for about fifteen years now. However, even in some of his lesser films, like LIAR, LIAR, or LEMONY SNICKET, he was still able to entertain by virtue of his insane level of energy. Here, he seems half-asleep. It's almost like Carrey knew the penguins were what everyone was coming to see, so he just put himself on autopilot.
Even the relationship between Popper and his estranged family seem like leftovers from LIAR, LIAR. Anyone want to bet this stuffy businessman will reconnect with his family? Duh! The other subplot is about Carrey trying to get an elderly lady played by Angela Lansbury to sell her beloved family restaurant. This whole subplot could have really been left on the cutting room floor, although it does allow for the big comedic set piece, where the penguins wreak havoc on the Guggenheim museum (not as cool watching Clive Owen do the same thing in THE INTERNATIONAL).
Director Mark Waters, who made a name for himself with the surprisingly good MEAN GIRLS is also strictly on autopilot, although I liked the fact that the penguins can only be calmed by watching Charlie Chaplin movies. Also noteworthy is the fact that they used real penguins, and not CGI creatures, which would have been a trap many other productions would have fallen into (although certain scenes obviously got some CGI touch-ups).
Overall, MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS is probably a fine film for the kiddies, but parents aren't likely to get too much out of this. If you're a hardcore Carrey fan without any kids, skip it. This is Carrey phoning it in, without any of the usual Carrey hi-jinx that makes these films worth watching.
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|Extra Tidbit:||I think I'm the only person who dug THE NUMBER 23.|