Who could have guessed 20 years ago that the guy who played Fire Marshall Bill would end up entertaining our kids as one of the most family-friendly faces in Hollywood? Yeah, Jim Carrey's sure come a long way from his 'Dumb & Dumber' days, and after leading such an interesting career that's turned him into a household name and landed him two Golden Globes, it almost seems natural for him to be starring in a movie computer-generated penguins.
Kids, we know your excited because everyone knows penguins are hilarious.
Parents, hit the jump to see the full review on what you'll be getting dragged to this weekend.
What's it about?
'Mr. Popper's Penguins' is about a workaholic divorcee named Tom Popper who doesn't spend enough time with his two kids because he's too busy being caught up in his cutthroat, white collar, ethically questionable job. Then one day his late, globe-trotting father sends him six penguins to take care of, and since a penthouse suite in Manhattan is no place to raise a penguin (not to mention what an unwanted burden that must be to begin with), the guy is like, "Oh, hell no." He tries to get rid of the penguins, no one will take them off his hands, but then his kid falls in love with the birds and Popper realizes that he's stuck with 'em whether he likes it or not.
The more time goes by and more he grows connected to the birds, wouldn't you know it, they eventually help him grow into the person he's always wanted to be. But with the lingering threat of getting fired from his job for harboring penguins and the added hassle of a local zookeeper trying to take the penguins away, Mr. Popper finds that raising six penguins while trying to land a big real estate deal, salvage his estranged relationship with his kids, and win back his ex-wife all at the same time isn't as easy as he thought it would be.
Well isn't that just the sweetest thing.
Yup, it's adapted from the kid's book of the same name, it's some feel-good fun for the whole family, and chances are that you've seen the trailer and have correctly guessed everything that's going to happen here. And that's fine, because we don't think anyone involved with this was aiming to break the mold when they signed on to star, write or direct. It's Jim Carrey playing around with goofy little penguins for 95 minutes in a story arc that's been beaten to a pulp, but like we said, that's fine. There is a market for these kinds of movies and there's not much else a production really needs to cash in.
As far as the script is concerned, it's entirely predictable, it's very sweet, and it'll hopefully teach the youngsters in the crowd that family matters most. It's also riddled with toilet humor that kids will love and adults will hate along with tongue-in-cheek jokes that kids won't understand and adults will maybe smile at once or twice. Maybe it's just us, but one scene with penguins crapping all over Jim Carrey more than enough. Six scenes of penguins farting and crapping all over Jim Carrey is overkill and then some. Other than that though, it's what we expected and it's hard to be disappointed by something you saw coming from a mile away.
Then again, it's kind of weird writing this review from the viewpoint of a childless adult because we clearly aren't the target audience this movie was going for. With that in mind, it's hard to be critical of this movie's shortcomings, but by the same token, you take look at any of the phenomenal movies that Pixar has put out and you start to expect something more from "kid's movies."
But how's Jim Carrey?
He carries this thing (pun intended). Like every Jim Carrey comedy, he throws himself into the role, he has fun doing it, and he he's even got himself a new catchphrase that allows him to say "Yupsolutely" a good six dozen times. We still wish he'd stick to doing gut-busting, edgy stuff like 'I Love You Phillip Morris,' but hey, it's his career and there's still no one out there who brings the charisma quite like Jim.
But aside from Carrey, Carla Gugino is here as his wife; Angela Lansbury is here as Mr. Popper's big client; and Jeffrey Tambor makes a five-minute cameo along with a handful of other recognizable faces. They're all fine, but they all end up in Jim Carrey's shadow, which probably came as absolutely no surprise to any of them.
Is it worth seeing?
Well, the kids sitting around us in the theater seemed like they were having a grand old time, so if you're looking to be the cool parent this weekend, 'Mr. Popper's Penguins' absolutely serves its purpose. But for the rest of you who have graduated from puberty, don't have any little mouths to feed, and can think of five other movies off the top of your head that all sound exactly like better versions of 'Mr. Popper's Penguins,' feel free to go right ahead and move it along. We don't think anyone out there was expecting this movie to reinvent the wheel or anything, but as much as it totally caters to its target audience and is ultimately a nice, warm-hearted movie, the bar for these kinds of movies has been raised over the years and 'Mr. Popper's Penguins' ain't meeting it.
4/10 Bird Lovers