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DVD Review: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

December 6, 2011

Mr. Popper’s Penguins – A 20th Century Fox Release

http://www.popperspenguins.com/penguinwintergames/

DVD Release Date: December 6th, 2011

Rated G for some mild crude humour

Running time: 94 minutes

Mark Waters (dir.)

Sean Anders (screenplay)

John Morris (screenplay)

Jared Stern (screenplay)

Based on the novel by Richard and Florence Atwater

Rolfe Kent (music)

Jim Carrey as Mr. Popper

Carla Gugino as Amanda

Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Van Gundy

Ophelia Lovibond as Pippi

Our reviews below:

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Mr. Popper’s Penguins DVD Review By John C.

** (out of 4)

After his father passes away, Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey) is left takng care of six cute little penguins.  At first looking up recipes so that he can cook the birds, the real estate agent soon realizes that the penguins are perfect when it comes to impressing his two kids (Maxwell Perry Cotton and Madeline Carroll) and even winning back his ex-wife (Carla Gugino).  But his New York condo can only stay an ice box for so long before a bumbling zoo official (Clark Gregg) decides to step in.

It should be noted that little kids will likely be delighted by Mr. Popper’s Penguins and be highly amused by Jim Carrey’s schtick.  But the film lacks the genuine charm of the original book by Richard and Florence Atwater, and the purely juvenile sense of humour is often more annoying than it is funny.  The penguins are often cute on their own, but this isn’t enough to make Mr. Popper’s Penguins overly engaging for anyone above a certain age.

The Blu-ray includes an animated short, gag reel and several featurettes.

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Mr. Popper’s Penguins DVD Review by Erin V.  

**1/2 (out of 4)

Before seeing this film, judging by the trailers, I figured it would be pretty bad, considering I was and still am such a fan of the original book.  After seeing the film though, I found myself amused and entertained, in particular by the main penguin ‘Captain.’

In this version of Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey) is a successful businessman, who is separated from his wife and only sees his kids on weekends.  When he is left a mysterious gift of penguins from his late father, at first he is annoyed and wants to get rid of them, but they end up bringing the family back closer together again.

Those who’ve read the book should know that this is merely a loose adaptation, not taking much more of the story than ‘a guy named Mr. Popper gets sent a bunch of penguins.’  The donor of the penguins is changed, the circumstances, as well as the year in which the story takes place.  In some ways, I was relieved to not see the original book play out on screen with Jim Carrey in the title role (one that if  true to adaptation would possibly be better suited to Richard Jenkins).

As always recently, Carrey’s humour is obvious and a little annoying at times, but kids are going to love it.  The script, again, is obvious, and the rest of the cast while fine, is nothing standout.  It is the penguins themselves that really make this one worth seeing.  A combination of real penguins for establishing shots, puppets, and CGI, they are cute and have a ton of personality.

While it’s not brilliant, there is nothing objectionable in terms of content here, so this one can be enjoyed by the broadest range, for example by grandparents to watch with their young grandkids.  Originally opening in June and not doing that well in box office returns, due to the wintery setting I personally would have slated this one for January, when the big Christmas movies for kids have passed and people are looking for something to see before the March break films start opening.  But it never really was essential to see in theatres, and that being said, for a pleasant light rental, it is worth checking out with your family if you love penguins.  Just don’t expect anything awards-worthy.

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Mr. Popper’s Penguins DVD Review By Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Loosely inspired by Richard and Florence Atwater’s classic book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a fun movie for kids.  When Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey), a divorced father of two, inherits a flock of gentoo penguins from his late father, he doesn’t know what to do.  But his kids, Bill (Maxwell Perry Cotton) and Janie (Madeline Carroll) as well as his ex-wife (Carla Gugino) fall in love with the penguins.  The eccentric Mr. Popper transforms his apartment into a penguin habitat, which makes for some very frosty days.  But when the local zoo wants the birds, Mr. Popper and his family must fight to get the penguins back.

Being a fan of the book, I wasn’t sure what the film would be like.  While the book is much better, I did enjoy the movie.  The penguins are cute, the child actors are good and the movie hase a nice message about family.  The movie also concludes that wild animals are not pets, and their emotional and social needs are important to keep in mind.  Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a harmless kids movie that makes a really nice Christmas present.

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Mr. Popper’s Penguins DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Just in time for cold winter days and holiday gift giving, the penguin-centric family film Mr. Popper’s Penguins is now available on DVD.  Loosely based on the classic 1938 children’s book by Richard and Florence Atwater the film offers harmless entertainment for the under-12 set thanks to the amusing and sometimes annoying antics of Jim Carrey and six Gentoo penguins (real and CGI).

Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey) is a real estate agent specializing in heritage properties.  His workaholic ways have led to his wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) and two kids moving out and leaving him with the big condo all to himself.  That is until a surprise package arrives.  Mr. Popper’s father, a world traveller leaves Mr. Popper with a unique souvenir when he dies – six Gentoo penguins.    At first he is not pleased.  It’s when he realizes that his kids are totally impressed that he turns his condo into a comfy icebox for his messy but cute new roommates.  The action picks up when a zoookeeper learns of their existance and tries to take the creatures for his penguin exhibit.

The nice thing about Mr. Popper’s Penguins is that it’s clean – except for the penguin poop – but silly fun.  The not so nice thing about this movie is all the penguin poop jokes and Jim Carrey’s often overly silly performance.  This is by no means a brilliant movie.  However it is amusing in a child-like way and the whole family can sit down together to watch without having to explain any plot points to younger members.  Parents who decide to watch Mr. Popper’s Penguins on DVD might also want to check out the original 1938 book as a fun read aloud bedtime story.  I have fond memories of this amusing children’s chapter book.  I can’t say that I’ll remember the movie the same way years from now.

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Mr. Popper’s Penguins DVD Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Having grown up mainly knowing his world explorer father through brief shortwave conversations, Tom Popper (Jim Carrie) has largely ignored his own children Janie and Billy (Madeline Carroll and Max Cotton) and ex Amanda (Carla Gugino). Gifted at acquiring valuable properties for his high end New York developer firm, Popper faces the ultimate challenge: to wrest an historic Central Park eating place from its hereditary owner (Angela Lansbury), who will sell only to a person she deems to be of good character.

When his father dies, Popper is sent a Gentoo penguin and a garbled request to have it sent back only results in five more. His no-pets luxury apartment is hardly appropriate for penguins, even with generous bribes to the concierge, but once his ex and kids see them there is no going back. At least the CGI penguins have the ability (like Atom in Real Steel) to mirror Popper’s movements, both for fun (line dancing) and convenience (toilet), but all the ice, flooding and egg brooding take their toll. Moreover, a zookeeper (Clark Gregg) with Avengers-like zeal keeps trying to seize the penguins, leading to a riotous last act with a rather predictable but sweet conclusion.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is nominally based on a book from many years ago that didn’t anticipate the zany antics of the Jim Carrey character, even toned down from previous roles. I much prefer a film like Zookeeper, where Kevin James plays a character people can identify with rather than Carrey, who is more of a clown. There is enough charm here however to recommend it, particularly to kids who will love it and to their parents who may just like it. The cast is all fine, and the script is just scatological enough to delight kids without being gross, and witty enough to avoid insulting the intelligence of the audience. For example, Popper’s personal assistant Pippi (Ophelia Lovibond) prefers to pepper her pronouncements with p-words. Though perhaps a bit light for the big screen, it would make a good party disk for kids.

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Consensus: Younger kids will likely be delighted by Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Jim Carrey’s manic performance, but the film doesn’t live up to the classic children’s book that it loosely follows due to the amount of juvenile humour.  **1/2 (Out of 4)

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