[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B006E0AS9I][/pullquote] Jim Carrey shot to fame in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, bringing his own mad-cap style of comedy to the big screen. In his early film career he got slightly typecast as a manic, rubber-faced lunatic with films like The Mask, Dumb and Dumber and Batman Forever. He then branched out, rather impressively into drama with Man on the Moon, The Majestic and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In recent years, his films have stumbled a bit at the box office, so he’s returned to comedy and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
Mr. Popper (Carrey) is an accomplished salesman who buys old buildings in order to knock them down and rebuild them. As a child his only interaction with his father came via a radio, and as a father himself he begins making the same mistakes by ignoring his children. When his father dies, he leaves his son 6 penguins, in hopes that caring for them will teach his son the value of spending time with his family.
It is difficult to write a review of Mr. Popper’s Penguins without referencing one of Carrey’s earlier works, Liar Liar. Whilst the plots are different, the message and performance are almost identical, but replacing the madcap inability to lie, with the ever popular penguins. Even with these superficial differences, it’s still about a man who takes his family for granted and realises that what’s really important is to get back with his ex-wife. It plays out exactly the way you’d imagine.
Where this will be successful, is the addition of the titular penguins. March of the Penguins and Happy Feet were both commercial successes and highlighted to Hollywood that people love the flightless birds. In this, they are mainly (if not entirely) computer-generated, and each penguin has a character trait that identifies them. If you imagine Snow White’s seven dwarves, you’ve pretty much got it. Kids will love them and will demand penguins of their own, so even with the terrible title of the film and the half-baked marketing campaign and trailer it will probably do well.
Sadly there is no originality at all, and whilst it ticks all the boxes and has some decent laughs, it is sad to see someone with Carrey’s comic and dramatic talent wasting himself on such saccharine sweet material. You and the kids will enjoy it whilst it’s on, but it’ll likely be forgotten in a few months, never to be heard of again.