CATEGORIES Classics, Comedy, Casting, RumorMonger, 20th Century Fox, Family Films, DIY/Filmmaking, Newsstand, Movie News, CinematicalI read voraciously as a child, but Mr. Popper's Penguins is one book I never finished. Not because I didn't like it -- I was obsessed with exotic pets -- but because it was so popular at my school library that I always had to return it before I'd finished it. (But reading its Wikipedia entry now, I should be glad, I probably would have cried my little eyes out.) Considering the book has been well-read and loved since its publication in 1938, it's amazing that there's never been a film adaptation. I imagine some of the delay has to be caused by limitations of technology and penguin training, but nevertheless, you'd think penguin mania would have ensured one after Batman Returns or The March of the Penguins.
Fox has kicked adaptation efforts into gear this year, though. Over the spring, they were courting Noah Baumbach to direct and Ben Stiller to star, causing The LA Times to speculate Fox was aiming for a quirky and more intimate take. After all, the poverty and wish-fulfillment of the Poppers is what drives the story and their penguin troop, and there's solid emotion to be found there. But that's unlikely to be the case. after all, most studios prefer their kid movies to be broad and loud, and The LA Times reports that Fox is now in talks with Mark Waters and Jim Carrey, indicating it will be the kind of slapstick animal movie that Carrey made his name on. No deals have been signed, and if Waters and Carrey decline, the Times notes that Jack Black and Owen Wilson are also on the list.
It's a pity, as I think the book is special, and could benefit from a sensitive adaptation. Too bad PIXAR never tackled the story. There's tears to be mined out of the story. Tears and heartache.