Review: MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Review: MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS (2011)


Ooo... Jim Carrey + Penguins = good formula for a potential hit comedy? I mean, why not? Once-bankable comedy superstar Jim Carrey surely desperate needs a hit. After all, when was the last time you have watched a good Jim Carrey movie these days? Not even his so-called "comeback" in YES MAN (2008) and A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2009) are enough to warrant public attention like he used to in his glory days. Even his last movie, a dramedy called I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS (2009) went mostly unseen in mainstream theaters. And so, here he is yet again. Firstly, I would like to say MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS is adorable enough, thanks to those undeniably cute penguins. It's also a decent Jim Carrey movie, but not in the way you will expect him back in his true form.

As for the story, the movie revolves around the titular Mr. Popper (Carrey), who owns a successful career as a top Manhattan real estate developer with a penthouse apartment. But his personal life, whose weekend visits with his kids, Janie (Madeline Carroll) and Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton) from his ex-wife, Amanda (Carla Gugino), is rather pathetic. Then comes one day where he learns his father, a world traveler who spent little time with Popper, has passed away. However, Popper receives a posthumous souvenir in the form of a freezer crate containing one penguin. If that's not enough, five more show up for the next day and it doesn't take long before Amanda and his two kids find out about his penguins just in time when he supposes to celebrate Billy's birthday. Popper is actually intended to send those penguins away, but he doesn't have the heart to tell his kid that those creatures aren't his birthday present. So he decides to let the penguins stay in his apartment and starts making effort to take good care of them. After all, the presence of those penguins has unexpectedly helped him rekindled his rocky relationship with his ex-wife and his two kids together.

Based on a 1938 children's book by Richard and Florence Atwater, the good-natured aspect behind the story of MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS is the kind that we usually seen during Christmas season and all the elements are essentially Frank Capra-esque narrative style. The movie is an overall heartwarming enough to put a smile in your face. I mean, you have to be stone cold enough not to get admired by those six cute penguins. One particular scene in which the penguins slipped and sliding down the Guggenheim's famed sloped ramp is among the prime example. In fact, those six penguins are no doubt the most scene-stealing moments in the entire movie. And Jim Carrey? He's actually not bad himself, but it's kind of disappointed he chooses to tone down his trademark rubber-faced expression. There are many times he prefers to go Jimmy Stewart's trademark everyman persona whereas someone should tell him it's best for him to stick his good old ACE VENTURA antic. The rest of the supporting actors are equally credible, even though they are pretty much strict caricatures we normally seen in this kind of family-oriented comedy.

Mark Waters's direction is nothing much to write home about, and I can't understand why he have to resort into those tired funny cliches one times too many. I mean, those poo-poo jokes where one of the penguins literally fart and excretes from its body? For a director who used to make engaging comedy like FREAKY FRIDAY (2003), MEAN GIRLS (2004), and to certain extent, JUST LIKE HEAVEN (2005), he could have done better than sticking to formula.

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