Movie Review: Mr. Popper’s Penguins (PG)


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Length: 95 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG

Age Appropriate for: 4+. The film is rated PG for “mild, rude humor and some language,” none of which I can even remember so it must’ve been pretty mild. I’d say the movie is appropriate for pretty much any age kid who can sit in a movie theatre for 95 minutes. Obviously there will be parents with them. If there’s anything that could potentially be upsetting to kids, it’s the fact that one of the penguin eggs doesn’t hatch, the portrayal of which is drawn out and sad.

By Mary McCarthy, Editor

Once a Jim Carrey fan, always a Jim Carrey fan. I mean, if you can get into the 12 year old boy fart jokes in Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber (and forgive The Cable Guy), you’re obviously a fan for life.

I’m a fan.

Loved him as the Grinch, and Scrooge, and every last “Today Show hijacking” interview. So I was excited to take three of my kids (ages 13, 8 and 5) to see the film screening. There just aren’t enough movies today where you can take the whole family with any aged kids and everyone has a good time, laughs and has fun.

Carrey is perfect as Mr. Popper, a jaded, divorced, OCD businessman (“It’s Monday. Thank God!”) with daddy issues who finds himself inheriting a half dozen penguins from his deceased dad. He is somewhat estranged from his kids, one of whom thinks the penguins are a birthday gift for him and in an effort to trade control over his desire to be a better father than his dad was, Popper agrees to care for the penguins in his 3500 square foot New York City two-story apartment (hey- it’s fiction). Hilarity, as you can imagine, ensues.

Director Mark Waters (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Mean Girls, Freaky Friday) brings exactly the right blend of humor not ashamed to go ‘penguin poop gag’ with a well-crafted story about the Tavern on the Green being potentially sold (its proprietor perfectly played by Angela Lansbury). He also does a fantastic job of creating the indoor winter wonderland that is the penguins’ new home.

What could be cuter than a baby penguin hatching out of an egg, Hollywood? Right. Nothing.

I cannot say I ever read the 1938 children’s book on which the film is based. I want to get my kids a copy now because they loved the movie so much. I’m hopeful book fans will agree the undoubtedly endearing qualities of the book have transferred well to a modern-day film version.

The ending of the film is drawn out and goes a little bit over-the-top Frank Capra/Ron Howard, but all is forgiven when you hear an audience full of kids of all ages clapping enthusiastically for what is really a worthwhile family film; a rare gem in a summer filled with overly hyped superheroes. (I swear the only thing the film was missing was a Dick Van Dyke Mary Poppins penguin scene reference- probably couldn’t get the rights from Disney.)

But the film is so sentimental in so many ways that I actually cried at one point. Yes, I cried during a Jim Carrey penguin movie—a new all-time low in my premenopausal soccer mom life.

And finally… a public service announcement for parents: TURN OFF YOUR IPHONE during the film. Carrey’s phone plays the same text-message tri-tone and other sounds and you will find yourself reaching for your phone a bunch of times.