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June 17, 2011
Review - " Mr Popper's Penguins "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Directed by: Mark Waters
Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Madeline Carroll, Angela
Lansbury, Ophelia Lovibond, Philip Baker Hall, James Tupper, Kelli

Growing up, Thomas Popper rarely saw his father, a globe-trotting
explorer who occasionally stopped into his son’s life for a festive night
out before taking off again for points unknown. As an adult, Popper's
(Jim Carrey) single-minded dedication to his career development has
made him just as much a stranger to his own children, sullen tween
Janie (Madeline Carroll) and little Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton), who live
with his ex-wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) and would rather spend the
weekend in detention than in their dad’s sleek, cold, high-tech
bachelor pad.

At least that's the way things are before the penguins arrive. As far as
Popper is concerned, there’s nothing he wants less than a honking,
fish-gobbling crap machine, unless it's half a dozen of them; that his
father’s last gesture was to afflict him with a flock of Gentoo penguins
is just typical. All he wants is to unload the damned things on some
zoo so he can concentrate on closing the deal that will make him a
partner in a venerable New York City real-estate firm: He just has to
get cranky old Mrs. Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury) to agree to sell
them Tavern on the Green, which his rapacious employers want to
level so they can develop the only privately held piece of land inside
New York City’s famed Central Park. But Popper is forced to
reconsider his priorities after Billy and Janie fall head-over-heels in
love with the penguins—in no time flat, they’re actually begging to
spend time with him.
The problem is…well, actually, there are a bunch of problems, starting with the fact that he lives in a swanky condo with a
no-pets rule, and no one likes him enough to look the other way. Popper can pay off the doorman, but spiteful neighbor
Kent (David Krumholtz) would just love to catch him violating building rules. Plus, back when Popper was trying to get rid of
the waddling birds, he made the mistake of contacting zookeeper Nat Jones (Clark Gregg), who’s now hell-bent on rescuing
Popper’s pack of penguins from their lush life. Oh, and penguin-keeping is a lot of work, especially when they start nesting
and hatching fuzzy little fish-gobbling crap machines. But once Billy and Janie are firmly bonded with the penguins and even
Amanda has started showing signs of softening towards her ex-husband, Popper must to do what it takes to keep his web-
footed frenemies.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is first and foremost a Jim Carrey movie, a showcase for his trademark mugging and capering with a
gooey sentimental center that differs dramatically from the gentle, low-key book about a lowly house painter whose
unrealized dreams of adventure in far-flung places
are unexpectedly answered by the gift of a penguin.
And it’s a tribute to the irresistible charm of penguins
(even CGI penguins) that they nearly succeed in
stealing the movie right out from under the veteran
spotlight-hogger by virtue of being so damned cute,
even when they’re honking like air horns and wiggling
their evolutionarily astonishing but astonishingly ugly
barbed tongues. As to the sight of penguins sitting in
rapt amazement at the sight of Charlie Chaplin
waddling across Popper’s giant flat-screen TV screen,
well, it would make Scrooge himself melt into a puddle
of warm fuzziness. Just a friendly warning to parents,
though: Be prepared to spend long, nerve-wracking
months telling your progeny that that there is no way
they are ever, ever going to have a pet penguin.