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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Just Average: 6.06%
Pretty Crappy: 39.39%

4 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Mr. Popper's Penguins
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by Daniel Kelly

"Well at least the kids will love it."
2 stars

For the sake of fairness, I should disclose that the kids in my screening of “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” absolutely lapped the picture up. An adaptation of a famed children’s book, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” has a very specific target demographic in mind, namely nippers under the age of ten. It’s important to note that this family flick wasn’t built with the likes of me in mind, but even so I’m happy enough to excuse it as a mild and harmless piece of cinema. Fronted by a likable Jim Carrey, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” is perhaps a little overly focused on mining bodily functions for giggles, but most other facets of the flick are substantially less insulting. Primed with a strong set of morals, a few clever sight gags and some very cute CGI penguins the movie emerges as an adequate babysitting device, even if it possesses limited appeal for older patrons.

Tom Popper (Jim Carrey) is a cynical businessman with a profession befitting his sour personality. He specializes in destroying New York landmarks for profit, his latest target a restaurant named Tavern on the Green, owned by the defiant Mrs. Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury). When Popper’s estranged father passes away, the workaholic is rendered indifferent, until he receives his dad’s final gift. Left to him are a gaggle of playful penguins, the birds quickly running amok within their new owner’s luxurious penthouse apartment. At first Popper seeks to dispose of his new guests, but they quickly provide him with a rare opportunity to connect with his children (Maxwell Perry Cotton and Madeline Carroll), and even a chance to rekindle romance with ex-wife Amanda (A thoroughly wasted Carla Gugino). However whilst his domestic life improves, Popper finds his professional aspirations waning, with added strain coming from Nat Jones (Clark Gregg), a shady zookeeper determined to confiscate the penguins and place them in captivity.

Jim Carrey works hard in “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”, doing his best to inject the obvious plotline with energy and verve. The performance is less caffeinated than some of his other work, but the actor still finds time to indulge his silly side, offering up a Jimmy Stewart impression, some slow-mo spoofing and enough physicality to satisfy fan expectation. The character of Tom Popper is pretty standard, indeed Carrey has covered such redemptive ground before (chiefly in 1997’s “Liar Liar”), but the actor at least puts some genuine conviction behind the performance. It’s all very generic, but Carrey refuses to phone it in. None of the other human participants have much to do, Ophelia Lovibond is occasionally fun as Popper’s alliteration obsessed assistant, whilst Maxwell Perry Cotton and Madeline Carroll submit above average turns given their age groups. No, aside from Carrey the real stars are the penguins themselves, the film using the adorable critters for a variety of slapstick interludes, some of which are admittedly more successful than others. For example, there’s an amusing joke involving a penguin swimming in a fully flooded bathroom, but by the same token the movie pushes the fecal humour a little hard. It’s a mixed bag but “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” probably has at least half a dozen solidly executed gags, which is honestly more than I was expecting.

I have to question the employment of director Mark Waters, a filmmaker who hasn’t been on form since 2004’s “Mean Girls”. His more recent output (“The Spiderwick Chronicles”, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”) hasn’t been up to scratch and his vanilla handling of this feature is to the detriment of the overall production. “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” hasn’t been edited with much care or precision, the photography (One lovely skyscraper based shot aside) also suffers from disappointingly plain presentation. If it weren’t for Carrey frantically attempting to jazz the story up, then “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” would have very little to offer, its director obviously not particularly excited by the material.

The picture ends on a saccharine note, the film’s various emotional arcs turning to treacle during the dying moments. Expecting anything else would be ridiculous, rendering such a complaint moot, but it’s one I’m going to note anyway. “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” didn’t do much for me, the picture a very hit and miss experience, but then again I’m definitely not who it’s seeking to enthrall. This is a film aimed squarely at youngsters, and based on the reactions I gauged earlier they’re more than happy with it.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=21698&reviewer=425
originally posted: 07/31/11 15:21:58
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User Comments

2/27/17 Louise I like Carrey and I found it cute. I even LOL'd a coupla times. 3 stars
3/22/15 Jerry Spray I would rather have Stinky do his business in my underwear than watch this film again. 1 stars
7/10/12 Guy with a rod Jesus this thing was vanilla. Barely a laugh or memorable characteristic in sight. 1 stars
8/18/11 Kim Kelly Maybe kids see the appeal that I didn't. Could have been much better 2 stars
8/10/11 Quang Thịnh This film is pretty cute, but actually the jokes in this film were so corny 3 stars
8/07/11 danielle heredia cute movie..most definitely for a kid though...but still cute. 4 stars
8/07/11 Erica D. I thought this movie was cute and my daughter just loved it. 4 stars
8/01/11 Bob Dog This film is a lot better than these hard hearts are letting on. 4 stars
6/18/11 Ming This film is a stinker..Not funny and waste my time 1 stars
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  17-Jun-2011 (PG)
  DVD: 06-Dec-2011


  DVD: 06-Dec-2011

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