Mr. Popper's Penguins review

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is based on the Florence and Richard Atwater children’s book and is a tale of parenthood, feathered friends and emotionally damaged offspring who all come together in wintry New York City. A release at Christmas would have been more appropriate when seeing the white powdery stuff is easier to accept and the cold outside mimics the snow and ice in the theatre.

Even with the help of Jim Carrey carrying the load the birds and company will have a hard time taking flight this summer with the flashier blockbusters that have overloaded movie goer’s senses. Not at all helpful is the grandstand speech by the father about the glory that is America and its great citizens.

The film starts in 1976 with rosy cheeked, young Tommy Popper talking with dad the Antarctica explorer on a CB radio with Tippytoes and Bald Eagle as their handles. Then we move forward to present day and Thomas, played by Jim Carrey, is now a workaholic developer of real estate for a greedy trio known as Yates, Reader and Franklin (William Mitchell, Dominic Chianese, and Philip Baker Hall, respectively).

Thomas is talking of the wonderful morning smell of toner whilst sniffing a report that his personal assistant Pippi has prepared, and who responds by using perfectly punctuated prose with lots of Ps. For Thomas to be promoted he needs to persuade the Tavern on the Green’s restaurant owner to sell in Central Park.

She turns him down, promising to sell it to someone of worth and is looking specifically for a Jimmy Stewart type with character and integrity. Thomas dutifully lets his bosses know the situation. While still trying to get her to close on his deal, Thomas receives an inheritance from his dad, six Gentoo penguins which change his life and help him rebuild the broken relationship he has with his ex-wife and children.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins sends home the message of parental responsibility and that love can triumph over the worst of adversity with the gentleness and finesse of a sub zero frostbite.  Carrey reins in his usual out of control self a bit and gets easily upstaged by the digitally altered and real birds that crash the party at a ritzy Guggenheim museum get together.