'Mr. Popper’s Penguins' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello
Director: Mark Waters (‘Mean Girls,’ ‘Freaky Friday (2003)’)
Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Cugino (‘Sucker Punch’) and Angela Lansbury
It’s not often when a Golden Globe-winning actor is upstaged by animals in a movie. But that’s certainly the case in the new live-action comedy ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins,’ which stars Jim Carrey in the title role and is based on the 1939 book of the same name by Richard and Florence Atwater. Director Mark Waters successfully appeals to children, his targeted audience, by using real penguins instead of CGI in the film, but ultimately fails to connect with adults with the lack of emotions exhibited by Carrey.
‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ follows Tom Popper (played by Carrey), a successful New York businessman whose relationship with his children, Janie (portrayed by Madeline Carroll, ‘The Spy Next Door’) and Billy (played by Maxwell Perry Cotton, TV’s ‘Brothers and Sisters’), is deteriorating. Tom receives six penguins from his father, who sailed around the world while Tom was a child, after he dies. While Tom is reluctant to care for the penguins at first, he eventually comes to care about them, as Janie and Billy want to come visit him more often to see the birds. Even though Tom is reconnecting with his kids and his ex-wife Amanda (portrayed by Carla Gugino), his professional life is failing, as he’s starting to neglect his work. His bosses become upset that he’s unable to close his deal to buy the famed restaurant Tavern on the Green from Ms. Van Gundy (played by Angela Lansury). But after seeing that any situation can be fixed with perseverance, Tom persistently tries to impress Ms. Van Gundy to make the deal and save his job.
The family film tells a touching story best suited for fathers and their young children, just in time for Father’s Day. ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ proves how personal sacrifices can bond family; Tom was willing to sacrifice his care-free lifestyle to begin looking after and protecting the penguins, as his children, particularly Billy, wanted to keep them. Tom didn’t mind that caring for the penguins affected his job performance, as he didn’t want to break his promise to his children that he would keep the animals. While Tom and Amanda are no longer married, he still wants to keep his family together and please everyone.
Children will also appreciate and laugh at the numerous tricks involving the penguins that are featured throughout ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins.’ One humorous stunt occurred while Tom was attending a gala at the Guggenheim Museum to try to talk Ms. Van Gundy about buying the Tavern. The penguins, who grew attached to Tom, followed him to the museum. After water was spilled on the floor, the penguins started sliding all around the museum, knocking into guests and pushing them over the balcony.
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