Friday, June 17, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins

That's Us

Is it a natural progression for comedians to mellow with age? Gone are the days when a Jim Carrey vehicle would come with something raunchy or naughty – remember how he burst onto the scene with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective – and with each passing comedy of Carrey's now it becomes tamer until we finally hit the G rating in Mr Popper's Penguins, a straight up family friendly comedy with feel good themes that you'll not be too far off if you thought this was a product of Disney, with something shrewd because one cannot go wrong with animals coloured black and white from Pandas to Penguins.

Jim Carrey plays the titular Mr Popper whom we follow through his father-less childhood in the first few scenes, given that his dad is an adventurer who travelled the world, and never quite found it in him to return for important occasions. This translates to the present day, grown up Potter who while is successful at his real estate job, is a complete dud when it comes to the family arena having separated from his wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) and being again the disconnected dad to his kids Janie (Madeline Carroll) and Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton). Help comes indirectly in the form of a bequeathed package courtesy of Popper's dad who in his last will and testament left behind a live penguin to his son, and through an expected communication mixup, lands up with six of the Antarctic creatures.

Carrey goes full circle in starring with CG animals as co-stars again, although now visibly aged, has had his thunder stolen by the very adorable penguins that comes with a distinct personality each, in order to differentiate them amongst one another. Funny face Carrey has lost his rubbery potential, and much of the mirth came from a select group of penguins just primed for comedy, such as the one nicknamed Nimrod. Situations get crafted involving the penguins and Popper's kids that they are a given, to show just how much the family members bond together when they play together, which becomes the primary message and theme amongst others in the film.

It was nice seeing Angela Lansbury in a support role as an elderly owner of a fine dining cafe within Central Park that becomes Popper's mission to get rid of if he wants to get into the board of directors. Carla Gugino did relatively nothing to further the storyline other than to serve as the alternate voice of conscience and parenting expert for Mr Potter. But amongst all the supporting members, perhaps it is Ophelia Lovibond who impresses the most, playing probably the only quirky character in the film as Pippi, Mr Potter's assistant, who speaks quality English and enunciates them with lyrical quality, and what more having a penchant to construct sentences whose words begin with the letter P. It's a constant tongue twister alright, but Ophelia pulls this off so convincingly that it's hard to imagine anyone else stepping into the role.

If penguins are your thing (and CGed ones at that) and a family/kid friendly outing to the cinema is something you need to plan for, then you will not want to miss this opportunity. Otherwise Mr Popper's Penguins offer nothing outside those healthy moral messages except perhaps to laugh at very rude penguins which fart and crap almost everywhere.

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