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Poppers Penguins delightful – I can’t apologize for that

Ok, so my descent into dotterage continues. I am now giving favorable reviews to movies that break most of the things that I hold sacred which I guess just goes to prove what Betty and Veronica have known for years. Cute matters.
I have fallen in love with Mr. Poppers Penguins.
It’s one of the sweeter movies I’ve seen in awhile and I hope it starts a whole new trend in domesticating penguins because that always seems to work out well. Look at Babe Pig In The City.
Ok, before you all get your SPCA/PETA knickers in a knot and write me telling me all about how reckless my statements are – and how every year thousands of bunny rabbits are abandoned – I’m just kidding. Doesn’t mean I don’t want a penguin but I suspect it won’t like my lack of housekeeping skills anyway.
So back to the review. Jim Carrey plays a slightly unethical real estate developer who is trying to squeeze Angela Lansbury out of this lovely and prestigous piece of real estate in New York City. It’s a lovely little restaurant/pub that Carey has a family connection to because his dad, who was a world traveller/adventurer, used to take the family there on the rare occasions when he was in town.
Carrey works for a firm that wants to buy it, tear it down and then ruin it with some god-awful development that would obliterate the skyline.
Jimbo is a divorced, mildly estranged husband and dad. Like his dad, he’s just too busy to be good at parenting or partnering.
At this point I have to mention that I really don’t like Jim Carrey. He is occasionally interesting but most of the time he is too busy reminding the audience that he’s Jim Carrey. This is a remarkably understated performance and his Mr. Popper is minus the usual JC manic energy and that’s a welcome relief.
So, he’s sort of skating through his life and doing rather well in the business world and then one day, a gift from his father arrives. It’s a penguin. He’s ill prepared to handle this but too busy to properly dismiss it right away and then his ex-wife, daughter and son show up to celebrate his son’s forgotten birthday and look what dad’s got for a gift.
It works.
I don’t know why this works but for me, it really did.
The film is predictable.
We know that Poppers going to get attached to his flock.
There’s a sweet scene where the penguins lay eggs, three of them, and when the first two hatch Popper goes full out to try and bring the third to incubation. It’s charming and expository and hey, no human had been this attached to a round thing since Tom Hanks and Wilson were palling it up in Castaway.
There are several comical subplots.
Popper has an assistant, Pippi, who insists on using illiteration to make her point. I like it. They even make fun of her penchant which is even funnier.
There’s a world of wonder in the Manhattan apartment turned icy enclosure and something about watching the family skate in the living room while the penguins zoom around is a real delight.
Listen to me. What’s wrong? I can’t find my cynicism.
Look, this is based on a much-loved kids book from 1938 and the simple charm of that era is captured here. It’s a fairy tale and the director/writer were smart enough to not update it. It’s a simple story with simple people and even the evil zoo inspector is a caricature of himself. His pre-apocalyptic warning that love is the domain of whomever has the raw fish is a chilling warning to all of us. (No it isn’t, but sometimes I like to try and sound like one of them fancy boy movie reviewers with their iconic this and titular that. But I digress.)
We know the ending, and it doesn’t disappoint when it arrives.
All of this is forgivable, maybe because the penguins are so darn cute.
They do everything together and no I don’t know how much of it is CG and how much is actually penguins playing soccer in the park but whatever the breakdown it works for me.
They really are adorable.
I mean I know the reason penguins mate for life is because it’s not like you’re going to meet a better looking penguin, but hey, these guys rock the sardine set.
I liked it and I can’t apologize for that. I may have been sleep deprived
the first time I watched it but after that what was my excuse?
It’s family-friendly, has a running time of under 100 minutes and of course, has penguins. Eventually eight, but a solid six for most of the film.
It may not captivate the too-cool-for-school set and of course if you’re idea of a good movie is trying to figure out what the hell was going on in Inception then this is too far down the end of your nose to enjoy. I’m a dullard.
I loved it.
Next week, I’m captivated by a bright shiny thing. Pictures at 11.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: Paul Peterson

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