Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a Jim Carrey penguin movie. It totally delivers on having Jim Carrey and penguins in it. Really not much to say here. The movie does everything it promises to, it’s cute, it’s light and that’s fine.
Tom Popper (Carrey) grew up with an absentee dad who used to communicate with him on CB radio from his Antarctic expeditions. (Kids, CB was like old timey cell phones.) As a grown up, Popper’s a corporate wheeler-dealer who’s out of touch with his own kids. His father leaves Popper some penguins in his will, and the penguins turn his New York apartment and life upside down.
You know where this goes. At first Popper doesn’t like the penguins. He’s annoyed with them. Then they start to grow on him and he learns valuable lessons that help him reconnect with his family too. That’s the deal and it feels organic. At least they’re not forcing a B.S. agenda. It actually is good for people to learn to listen to each other.
The corporate subplot is Popper’s firm wants him to buy Tavern on the Green so they can tear it down. So they’re evil and he’s going to have to rebel against them. Popper has to sell Mrs. Van Gandy (Angela Lansbury) on the deal, so of course his penguin antics seem unprofessional.
Carrey still makes the best faces in the business and he elevates the animal antics with his physical skill. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but basic penguin humor. They poop, they waddle, they sleep in his bed. Carrey is really playing to kids, so it’s almost a little toned down, or maybe he just didn’t want to upstage the penguins.
There are some silly stretches of credibility. A house sitter does fine with the penguins until she freaks out and bolts, leaving the door wide open. That’s just not something a normal person does. Popper’s catch phrase “Yeahbsolutely” is no “all righty then.” Clark Gregg plays a hardcor zookeeper who wants to take the penguins away but the film never makes him a moustache twirler, or even a real threat.
So probably not a Screen Junkies type movie but maybe some of you have kids. As summer kids movies go it’s solid entertainment.