Mr. Popper's Penguins

2011-06-20 14:36
What it's about:

Mr Popper has grown up from sharing wild exploration stories with his adventurer dad, to being a real estate mogul in New York City. Having distanced himself from a never-present father, he doesn’t expect too much when he hears of his father’s death. But he has his own children to win over, and a rather inconvenient inheritance that’s ruining his biggest deal to date: a mini-flock of penguins.

What we thought:

There’s a certain expectation that comes with a Jim Carrey movie. The rubber-face expressions; the over the top antics; strange loud sounds that turn out to be real words. Some people love it, other people detest it. I’m happy to say that no matter which side of the fence you’re on in this regard, you’ll enjoy his take on Mr Popper

A young "Tippy Toe" spent his childhood waiting excitedly next to a long-distance radio transmitter for the very sporadic contact from his dad. But, the older he gets, the less he believes in his Adventurer dad, who’s always found his exotic explorations more important than his young Tippy Toe at home. The grown Popper has an excited charisma about him, and along with it, a ruthless sense of opportunism and business savvy. As a divorcee, his biggest challenge is winning over his very sensitive teenage daughter, and keeping his young son on his team. When his father dies, he leaves Popper a rather intrusive inheritance: six Gentoo penguins. They’re the most family-orientated and loving of all the penguin species and they go from ruining Popper’s perfect New York life, to changing his perspective. And his decor choices. But can the new sentimental Popper handle disappointment, and stop himself from going back to his safe, controlled world of coaxing and manipulating?

It’s straight-up cute. Not just the penguins. What’s great about Mr Popper’s Penguins is that it takes out those elements that make family movies cheesy and weak. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing new or compelling - it’s just a fun, family comedy. But like so many movies suitable for kids these days, there are plenty of adult innuendos in there. In fact, I was laughing through most of it.

Carrey doesn’t rely on his old-school gimmicks to get the crowd laughing, which even his critics will like. His acting skills have never been questionable to me, so no disappointment there. He delivers a good mixture of the serious, charismatic businessman and funny dad. Not in a Liar, Liar way. Thank heavens. And even without the over-acting, Carrey doesn’t lose the show to the penguins. They’re real by the way – the movie was filmed on a refrigerated soundstage with real Gentoo penguins, - except for a couple of scenes. For the most part they’re believable and endearing whether CGI or not. The movie, however is still about the people, and although the penguins have characters, it’s not a bad Happy Feet rip-off.

To the kids, it’s a funny movie with cute penguins (what kinda kid doesn’t love penguins?) and an vivacious lead character. It has the sweetly disguised life-lessons that all family movies try to implement: never neglect your family, fight for the people you love and keep them close to you. To the grown-ups, it’s a funny movie with cute penguins (I don’t know an adult who doesn’t love penguins either) and well-scripted one-liners to keep you interested. Perhaps there’s a bit to learn for the grown-ups too: don’t be jaded by your disappointments. Don’t forget what’s most important. And most importantly, it teaches you how to cope with a hormonal teenager.

It’s not going to be the best movie you’ll see this year, or even the best kiddie movie, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s not even a pure kid flick - there are moments in Mr. Popper’s Penguins that you’ll genuinely enjoy. You’ll leave the cinema fuzzy and laughed up, and then carry on with your day. Perfect for a matinee.

* You can hear Kim every weekday from 9am - 12pm on 5FM for more candid opinions and hilarity. For extra sass and some profanity, follow her on Twitter: @KimSchulze

A funny and sentimental flick that’ll be fun for everyone.
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