Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 25
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

DANCING WITH THE STARS: Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey) has become reconciled with the penguins he inherited and has managed to train them to dance with him.

Mr. Popper’s Penguin: Jim Carrey Stars in Revision of Classic Children’s Book

Kam Williams

Published by Richard and Florence Atwater in 1938, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a popular children’s novel about a house painter who can’t afford to see the world anywhere but in his dreams because he has to support his wife and children. However, his life changes the day a penguin arrives in the mail in response to a letter he had written to an admiral exploring Antarctica.

Popper acquires a female mate from an aquarium so his new pet won’t be lonely, and the next thing you know she has ten baby penguins. He then tours the country after training the penguins as a circus act. In the end, however, he decides that forcing them to perform was cruel, so he takes them to the Arctic and sets them free.

The film version of Mr. Popper’s Penguins was directed by Mark Waters, who has successfully made children’s movies such as Mean Girls and the remake of Freaky Friday. Starring Jim Carrey in the title role, the picture bears little resemblance to the original classic. Nonetheless the story is likely to delight both young and old.

In the movie, Tom Popper is divorced, rich, and out of touch with nature. At the point of departure, the successful Manhattan real estate magnate inherits six penguins. Behaving in a manner suggested by their names, Stinky, Lovey, Bitey, Loudy, Captain, and Nimrod proceed to turn Popper’s posh penthouse apartment upside-down. There are many hilarious scenes, such as poop deposited on poor Popper followed by the rubber-faced Carrey’s reaction. He is also hit by soccer balls kicked by his daughter, Janie (Madeline Carroll), and son Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton). Just as funny is the alliterative dialog of his personal assistant Pippi, (Ophelia Lovibond), whose every other word seems to start with the letter “p,” such as “I can pamper the penguins,” and “You need to procure your promotion.”

Although initially the penguins are a nuisance for Popper, they ultimately help him become reconciled with his children and ex-wife (Carla Gugino), after he realizes that his family is far more important than making money. The film also features a couple of nice subplots, one involving a nosy zookeeper (Clark Gregg) who is determined to rescue the penguins; and the other about the owner (Angela Lansbury) of the Tavern on the Green restaurant who is reluctant to sell the restaurant to Popper.

Excellent (4 stars), rated PG for rude humor and mild epithets, running time: 95 minutes, distributor: 20th Century Fox.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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