Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Mr POPPER'S PENGUINS - Jim 'Carreys' On

Cast: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Madeline Carroll, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Clark Gregg, Curtis Shumaker and Angela Lansbury
Director: Mark Waters
Screenplay by Sean Anders, John Morris and Jared Stern, based on the novel by Richard and Florence Atwater.
Time: 94 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Gugino, Cotton, Carroll, Carrey and the Gentoos

PREAMBLE: For a long time, Jim Carrey has made a career out of making an ass of himself, clowning around with animals, poop and fart. Then, almost out of the blue, he breaks out of his 'dumb-ass' mode and impressed us with The Truman Show (1998) and later, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2005). Now, just when we thought that his Ace Ventura days are behind him, Carrey dives back into them - in this predictable family comedy aimed at kids below five.

I have not read the 1938 novel by Richard and Florence Atwater which inspires this movie, but it is obvious that the book has nothing to do with a posh Manhattan apartment.

SYNOPSIS: As a child, Tom Popper spends most of his time 'fatherless'. His old man is a global explorer who is always overseas and communicates with him via ham radio. As a real estate developer and father himself, Mr Popper (Carrey) finds that he has problems communicating with his teenage daughter Janie and 10-year-old son Billy (Madeline Carroll and Maxwell Perry Cotton). Things change when Popper inherits half a dozen Gentoo penguins from his late father - and his kids take an instant shine to them.

Now, Popper finds that he has something in common with his kids and even with his wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) even if it means that he has to be late for his appointments and a business deal with an eccentric restaurant owner Miss Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury).

HITS & MISSES: I suppose I would enjoy Mr Popper's Penguins a lot more if I had taken my three-year-old grand-daughter along. At that age, she loves poop and fart jokes and would doubtlessly be enamoured by the six Gentoos - each with a name, including one who breaks wind on cue.

Alas, there were no children at the media screening that I attended and none of the media folk laughed at these childish gags. Indeed, adults will find the movie farcical and predictable. Carrey makes no attempt to hide his silliness (obviously aimed at kids in the audience) while the younger cast (Carroll and Cotton) play it straight. Still, there are some witty parts like in the way the penguins love Charlie Chaplin movies - and of course, most of us would lap up those CGI-assisted antics of the Gentoos (above). Those flightless birds 'yabsolutely' steal the show sometimes.

THE LOWDOWN: You may go for it when you are tired of watching Kung Fu Panda 2 and Cars 2 over and over with your children.


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