Mr. Popper's Penguins

Mr. Popper's Penguins

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Jim Carrey's latest is a perfectly pleasant if predictable picture about a part-time pop who learns his priorites after receiving a package of penguins. Putting alliterative plosives to one side - and one of the film's characters, Pippi (the wonderfully named Ophelia Lovibond) speaks that way throughout - there's plenty here to keep your precious poppets entertained even if Mark Waters' film never attempts to break new ground.

We meet Mr Popper as a child (Dylan Clarke Marshall), and watch him spending hour after hour communicating with this absentee explorer dad via a radio set. Mr Popper Senior substitutes his presence with presents, dashing here and there on adventures while sending his son trinkets and tales from distant shores. Fast-forward a few years and Mr P is the fastest mouth in New York, involved in real estate of some sort that is never really dwelt upon. The important thing to note is that he a workaholic and, as such, needs to learn the sort of life lessons that only crossing paths with Angela Lansbury can teach a person.


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She plays the elderly owner of Central Park restaurant The Tavern on The Green, which is exactly the sort of comforting old-fashioned place that Mr Popper's bosses want to get hold of and destroy.

And so, into his well-meaning but lacking life comes a pack of penguins, which - after the horror of last week's Zookeeper - are blissfully mute, except for the squawking of "Loudy" and the emissions of "Stinky", who - along with Angela - show Mr P the error of his ways.

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What the script lacks in life, Waters at least partially makes up for in action. There are several well worked visual gags, including a neat, deliberately telegraphed flood, featuring slapstick that takes an unexpected turn and an impressive penguin-surfing set-piece in New York's Guggenheim, that help to offset the more mawkish subplot involving the (barely) estranged Mrs P (Carla Gugino).

Given the preponderance of snow in Mr Popper's appartment, it's a mystery why this is a summer and not a winter cinema release. Nearer Christmas, the decision to head firmly from ice to slushy sentiment towards the film's denoument would probably ring less hollowly. Still, this is a notch or two up the pecking order from this summer's weaker family releases.

Reviewed on: 05 Aug 2011
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Mr. Popper's Penguins packshot
Penguins prove pivotal for a part-time pop.
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Director: Mark Waters

Writer: Sean Anders, John Morris, Jared Stern, Richard Atwater, Florence Atwater

Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury, Ophelia Lovibond, Madeline Carroll, Clark Gregg, Jeffrey Tambor, David Krumholtz, Philip Baker Hall, Maxwell Perry Cotton, James Tupper, Dominic Chianese, William Charles Mitchell, Kelli Barrett, Dylan Clark Marshall

Year: 2011

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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