MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS Review

When Jim Carrey decided he was going to make a family comedy starring penguins it seemed like a safe bet but sadly it also seemed like the only route Carrey could trust to possibly revitalize his slumping career. Lets face it, not that many people turned out for "Yes Man" and did anyone outside the cinephile set see "I Love You, Phillip Morris"? No? Didn't seem like it. But alas, Carrey has landed himself in a family film that takes a childrens book, modernizes it, and though it throws in cliches, stock characters, and well worn lessons galore the movie still works because Carrey is so appealing and dedicated to his part. This might have been a stunt a la Vin Diesel or The Rock when they made "The Pacifier" and "Tooth Fairy" but at least this appears as more than a paycheck. Carrey is the consumate professional and he does his best to lift this material to its greatest potential.

What feels best about "Mr. Popper's Penguins" is the classical type elegance it has about it. This is simply a good-old fashioned family comedy. Yes, it may rely on one too many penguin poop jokes, but besides that there isn't much not to enjoy here. Not if you are able to let yourself go, forget all those rules that tell you you're not supposed to enjoy a film that doesn't have and over abundance of metaphors in its images and all that crap. This is a movie aimed at the ten year-old crowds and below, the biggest metaphor they have to understand is that it sometimes takes something crazy to realize something so simple. That a bunch of penguins could make a too busy for his own kids father realize the time he is letting slip away as his own father did with him.

Popper, as everyone in the film calls him even his kids and ex-wife, is a businessman looking to get his name on the front of the building and in the process has forgotten all that is really important in his life. He has two loving children, a fasinated young boy and a tween girl who gets the advantage of being played by the always great Madeline Carroll here. As for the ex-wife, Carla Gugino makes a fine foil for Carrey, we completely buy their short hand relationship and it is a highlight of the film how effortlessly these two vets make their situation seem to work even when it reaches levels of complete absurdity. When Popper's globe-trotting father passes away and leaves him six penguins is when things begin to turn around for our central character, but it is not without complications that Popper tries to balance his professional (which entails impressing a golden Angela Lansbury enough to sell him her estate) and his new personal life.m Of course, what Lansbury's Mrs. Van Gundy is really looking for is an individual she can trust to continue her business while enriching the same family values Popper is now also learning to appreciate.

Carrey has played this role before, the busy dad who doesn't have time for his kids was funnier in "Liar, Liar" but at least here Carrey is able to make us believe he would go as far as sitting in the cold with a penguin egg just to let his kids know how much he values the new relationships that have grown out of the black and white fellas showing up. Plans are also foiled when a conspicuous Clark Gregg shows up wanting to take the penguins away. Gregg's role here is mostly pointless and only adds to the climax of the film. The scene shows both Carrey and his penguin counterparts overcoming the odds and attaining their hopes and dreams. It may all sound mushy and sweet, and it is, but that is what is so nice about it. Though this may feel more like a Christmas release, Jim Carrey brings an extra warmth to the summer that is no doubt a relief for parents who are tired of sitting through countless animated movies with their children. It doesn't hurt Carrey's charm is in full throttle either, giving everyone in the theater a few genuine laughs and a constant reason to smile.