Mr Popper's Penguins (PG)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/08/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Enjoyable family comedy that sticks to the predictable formula but succeeds thanks to a witty script, several great gags, impressive penguin effects and a superb comic performance from Jim Carrey.

What's it all about?
Directed by Mark Waters, Mr Popper's Penguins stars Jim Carrey as divorced New York property developer Tom Popper, who's trying to buy the iconic Tavern on the Green from stubborn owner Mrs Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury), in order to earn a partnership in his firm. Popper's obsession with work means that he's neglected his children (Madeline Carroll as Janie and Maxwell Perry Cotton as Billy), while his ex-wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) appears to be moving on with a new man.

However, when Popper's never-around-for-his-kid explorer father leaves him six mischievous penguins (quickly nick-named Captain, Bitey, Lovey, Loudy, Stinky and Nimrod), Popper has no choice but to keep them in his immaculate New York apartment, with predictably messy results. However, caring for the penguins allows him to reconnect with Janie and Billy and soon Important Life Lessons are being learned all over the place.

The Good
Jim Carrey is superb as Popper, delivering an enjoyable comic performance that combines physical comedy (there's a bit with a bottle of champagne that's old-fashioned and silly, but oddly charming) with witty one-liners and even allows him to bust out his James Stewart impression. He also has believable, comfortable chemistry with Carla Gugino, while Carroll and Cotton are both good as the kids and there's terrific support from both Angela Lansbury and Britain's own Ophelia Lovibond as Popper's personal assistant Pippi, whose speech is permanently peppered with Ps.

The penguin effects (combining real-life penguins with digitally animated penguins) are nicely handled, with each penguin's personality coming to the fore. Similarly, the witty script strikes a good balance between penguin-based comedy and the Important Life Lessons stuff without letting it get too sentimental.

The Bad
The only real problem is that the script is entirely formulaic and therefore completely predictable from start to finish; it does actually hint at a darker direction in the middle (when it looks like Popper might be going mad), but it quickly veers away from it again. On top of that, the supposed villains (David Krumholtz's building supervisor, Clark Gregg's zookeeper) are underwritten and the film slightly overdoes the penguin poo jokes.

Worth seeing?
Mr Popper’s Penguins is an enjoyable comedy that will appeal to both adults and children, thanks to a witty script and a terrific comic performance from Jim Carrey. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

Mr Popper's Penguins (PG)
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Content updated: 26/09/2018 04:42

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