Jim Carrey has developped an irresistible persona as a family entertainer which has served him well in such films as “Liar Liar” and “Disney’s A Christmas Carol”. In that context, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” is a likable, PG-rated comedy that parents and kids can enjoy together. Is it predictable? Absolutely. Does it try to be anything more than it really is? Absolutely not. Does it succeed in being an entertaining summer family flick? Yes it does, and compared to some of the horrible movies polluting the multiplexes as we speak, it’s not bad at all. Carrey plays a hotshot New York City real-estate dealmaker whose father was a distant presence as he was growing up. When his father dies, he bequeaths to his son a live penguin, then later on, five more of the little creatures. Surprisingly, the arrival of the penguins boosts Carrey’s relationship with his son and daughter, not to mention his ex-wife. The movie clears enough space for the little birds to go crazy all over our man’s apartment and around Manhattan when they go out. But the nicest thing I can say about it is that it includes several footage from many Charlie Chaplin comedies (I easily spotted “The Circus” and “The Gold Rush”, one of my all time favorite movies), as Carrey discovers that the penguins are a sucker for the Little Tramp. If one viewer who isn’t familiar with Chaplin’s work comes away curious to watch his films, then “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” would have done a great service for the new generation.
As I said before, there is absolutely nothing new here, but Carrey and Co know how to keep things buzzing along. “Mr. Popper’s” definitely marks an important stage in Carreys maturation, or at least his transition from silly man-child (“Ace Ventura” anyone?) to goofy dad. Eddie Murphy did it before in “Daddy Day Care”, but that’s another story. As far as this film is concerned, I had a good time watching it.The humor is broad and basic, but it works. Kids will enjoy the sheer novelty of it, while grownups will get a chuckle watching Carrey doing what he does best. So if you think about it, it’s a win-win situation, no?
Categories: The Twenty-First Century