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    July 20, 2011

    MOVIE REVIEW: MR POPPER'S PENGUINS

    MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS (U)

    Genre: Comedy/Family
    Release Date: 07 July 2011
    Running Time: 94 minutes
    Distributor: 20th Century Fox
    Director: Mark Waters
    Screenplay: Sean Anders, John Morris and Jared Stern; based on "Mr. Popper's Penguins" by
    Richard and Florence Atwater
    Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Ophelia Lovibond, Madeline Carroll, Angela Lansbury

    Plot: In this family comedy, Jim Carrey is Mr. Popper, a driven businessman who is clueless when it comes to the important things in life - until he inherits six penguins. Popper's penguins turn his swank New York apartment into a snowy winter wonderland - and the rest of his life upside-down. Filmed on a refrigerated soundstage with real Emperor Penguins, Mr. Popper's Penguins is a contemporary adaptation of the classic book.

    Review: Move aside talking animals, I despise you! In the world when Hollywood movies seem to be catering this new strange-bond-relationship between human and animals that can talk, all got hair-wire and sense of logic is gone. For years, talking animals have invaded our sanity - Yogi Bear, Hop, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Cats and Dogs; and not to mention, the upcoming Zookeeper. Thanks to those movies, now I feel that my love for animals have lost due to the annoying little creatures - yes they give you no cuteness, only mess that you need to clean up. Fortunately, there are still some animals willing to sign up for a movie; without that talking component. Never since "Marley and Me" do I feel reconnect to the lost magical kinetic bond with animals that re-establishes on this latest Jim Carrey vehicle family comedy. Read on for more review after the jump.



    Thom Popper (Jim Carrey) is a divorced realtor in New York whose work career is rising up high. For his ability to get properties so desired by his company, he is deemed a gem of the real estate company. Unfortunately, Thom Popper never had a great childhood he wished to remember. His father, Popper Sr spent most of his lifetime travelling around the world. Although Senior always radio-ed in to keep in touch with his son while he is away, Thom becomes estranged with his father he hardly knew. When his father dies, a crate containing a Gentoo Penguin shows up at his doorstep as indicated in his last will testament. Eventually, due to a miscommunication, more penguins arrive, bringing the total to six. Originally intending to donate the penguins to the local zoo, Popper's children fall in love with them so he decides to keep them.

    At the same time, Popper is given a near-impossible task by his company to procure Tavern on the Green, the last private property in Central Park, New York. To get the deal done, Popper must get pass the elderly owner, Selma Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury) who only sells it to someone who she deems a person of true value. Now, Popper is heavily burdened by two responsibilities, juggling between his career work to melt the heart of Mrs Van Gundy and to take care of the six penguins that are creating havoc in his house; while trying his best to rekindle with his ex-wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) and his two kids Janie (Madeline Carroll) and Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton). Can he handle the burden on his shoulders?


    Let's do some analysis. Name any Jim Carrey's 'family comedy'. The list may include Liar Liar, Ace Ventura, The Christmas Carol and The Mask. Now, keep that list and we will see the differences between them and determine how Mr Popper's Penguins stand among them later. Foremost, the plot for this movie is so deviated from the original source material, with the setting is in the modern day New York City and Mr Popper is positioned in the movie as a realtor. The modern setting gives a little fresh idea on the mood and ambiance of the story but actually does not give any justification to the century-year-old classic tale. It is not a bad thing on how this movie turns out from what I am expecting. Rather than a rubbish and annoying story that inspired by how nuisance pets or animals can be, Mr Popper's Penguins delivers a fun, heart-warming at times and ambitious to go different. Penguins are cute and charming; the human characters are believably representing the modern daily life while the executions of reasoning are done logically, albeit at most of the time.

    Now, take a look at the list of movies I have asked you to keep just now. It is easy to pin-point how this movie is so not 'Jim Carrey' type of movie. As compared to Liar Liar, Ace Ventura, The Christmas Carol and The Mask; Mr Popper's Penguins represents an inoffensive plot. By keeping things down on the tune, it is not really a bad thing after all. I have enough of Jim Carrey making himself as an idiot by portraying bad examples to kids or been a self mockery man that cheats on morality. Instead of teaching kids to lie, to cheat death or to become extremely absurd, Carrey anchors this movie by dealing problems as a father in the modern world. We see how he deals with his kids’ issue, attempting to reconnect with their moms and juggling between work and personal issues. That's a whole new level of morale. On the surface, Mr Popper's Penguins is an enjoyable family comedy that takes itself lightly, cheerful and charming.


    Unfortunately, there are indeed some issues seen throughout the movie. Despite having great human character descriptions to begin with, the casts fail to embody the character even interesting. It bedazzles me to see that some characters are mostly under-used and to a certain degree been lack of excitement and realism. Next issue is the mayhem in the middle part of the plot - the time when Mr Popper is facing a dilemma of making sure that very one last egg does hatch. The obsession costs him the opportunity to rise up in his career but is quickly thrown away after giving up on the penguins, only to have him realize that he does indeed need the penguins. The double twists occur in just under 15 minutes and I think that the pace is pretty much abrupt at this point. Besides that, the ending plot becomes predictable and does not give the great setup a big deal. Nevertheless, I still enjoy the movie for been true to it. It is a family movie and nothing should be taken seriously. In the end, Mr Popper's Penguins is nothing more than an entertaining and heart-warming family comedy despite the mediocre acting and abruptness accompanying the inoffensive story line.

    THE RATING:
    Story: 3.5
    Casts: 3.5
    Cinematography: 3.5
    Effects: 3.5
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 14.0/20.0

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