Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011)
Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011)

Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.

Release Date: June 17th, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Mark Waters Actors: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Madeline Carroll, Angela Lansbury, Ophelia Lovibond




dults might have to stretch their patience to accommodate the level of absurdity inherent with the improbability and impracticality of a New York businessman raising six penguins in his apartment, but “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” isn’t really meant for the discerning viewer. Children who find bumbling, chubby creatures entertaining won’t have any complaints, and the parallel of a familial bond with the unity of a waddle of penguins isn’t the worst moral message one could offer young kids. Yet there are those of us who feel that Jim Carrey, while not entirely insufferable as a father of two children and six flightless birds, could be doing grander things.

While Tom Popper (Jim Carrey) pushes for a promotion at his property purchasing partnership, he finds himself further parted from his ex-wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) and his children Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton) and Janie (Madeline Carroll). When he unexpectedly procures six penguins from his estranged pop’s possessions, and Billy mistakes the pesky pets for his birthday present, Popper determines to protect his plumaged companions. As he struggles to balance providing for his new patrons with the pressures of his persistent employers, Popper must also attempt to reconnect with his family while parrying the pernicious plotting of a pushy zoo proprietor (Clark Gregg) intent on poaching the penguins for his own prehensile purposes.

The biggest problem with “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” is the lack of realism. Although it is clearly fantasy, and targeting a youthful audience, the complete disregard for repercussions and consequences is ludicrous, especially given that the police and a dutiful, nemesis zookeeper are included specifically for the purpose of control and reasoning. “We had fun, but it’s time to get back to reality,” says Popper, when the authorities step in and the penguins are momentarily treated like real animals in need of professional care. The whole movie might have worked more believably if it were animated. It’s bad enough that the CG penguins are completely visually distinguishable from their live action, trained counterparts.

Jim Carrey is right at home in the role of a nonsensical, overacting, idiosyncratic man desperately struggling to mend his shattered romantic relationship and separation from his kids – the same kind of character he’s been playing his entire career, and most likely nothing like the popular source material (the filmmakers probably tried in vain to reel him in). With gags such as a woman who sputters extreme alliteration, the typical soccer ball to the groin, the tuxedo-suited waddlers strolling through the Guggenheim and a crowded New York street unnoticed, and penguin excrement squirted in the face, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” is unfathomably awkward, bland, unoriginal, uninspired, and largely pointless. The dialogue and situations are pitiful and the supporting characters provide little relief from Carrey’s obnoxiousness. If it weren’t for a few brief clips from some of Chaplin’s films, the entire event would have been agonizing.

– The Massie Twins

  • 3/10