Margaret Perry Movies

Let's Talk Film

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

on 20 J0000006America/Chicago, 2011



Mr. Popper’s Penguins: Although my expectations for another Jim Carey movie were relatively low, I wanted to give the film, based on the classic children’s story by Richard and Florence Atwater, the benefit of the doubt. However, I was still a bit disappointed.

For those of you who haven’t read the book (or even if you have), the film is about a divorced father with two children and a high-pressure job (You can skip down to the next paragraph if you feel like you can predict where this is going). He doesn’t have the time or desire to spend time with his children who hate him for it. The reason for his bad parenting is because of his father (naturally), who’s only contact with his son was over a radio while he travelled around the world exploring. Then Popper’s father dies and sends him first one penguin, then another five. All of a sudden, Popper’s kids love him and he becomes a great father.

The film did have a couple good points to it. First of all, Angela Lansbury is cast as a side character, Mrs. van Gundy. Her face (and that memorable voice that accompanies it) is a welcome sight, I must say. Her character is one of the few with any real depth, and yet this depth is not thoroughly explored, probably due to the length of the picture.

Another positive part of the picture is presence of a couple clips of Charlie Chaplin, which Popper plays to keep the penguins quiet. Great parenting – put the kids in front of the TV so they’ll shut up. But it’s nice to see Chaplin on screen again… I suppose.

One last positive trait of this film is the set used in one of the shots in Popper’s apartment. The set department did a great job in transforming Popper’s apartment into a winter-wonderland, complete with snowmen and ice rink. It’s a beautiful shot that was very cleverly executed.

Those are really the only good things about this film. The plot is trite, cliched, and banal (to use some of my GRE vocab.). Jim Carey’s comedy has not changed nor developed into anything more than poop jokes. He’s supposed to be the hero of the picture but he comes off as a complete jerk. Few people in the film laugh at his jokes and even fewer people in the audience responded. I was watching in a theatre full of kids and they all laughed maybe twice throughout the whole picture.


The romantic plot is lacking in tenderness. The relationship between Popper and his children lacks depth. The movie as a whole lacks the quirkiness and ingenuity of the original story. I wouldn’t see it again and I wouldn’t recommend other people to see it. There is very little enjoyment to be found in this movie. It is simply too predictable. Although children might enjoy the idea of the film, I really think even people under the age of twelve would roll their eyes at most of the plot and comedy of the picture. Give them the book instead.
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