Saturday, June 18, 2011

Movie Review - Mr. Popper's Penguins

I'm just going to start the review off with this; I know Jim Carrey is a very polarizing actor. You either love him, or you hate him. Personally, I'm of the camp that loves him. My third favorite film (behind The Dark Knight and The Nightmare Before Christmas) is The Truman Show. I love Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, The Mask, The Majestic, and I even find his less enjoyable films like Yes Man enjoyable. Heck, I even liked him in the awful film adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, though honestly it was a poor choice to cast him in that role along with many other poor choices made in that film.

So basically what I'm saying is that I'm a fan of Jim Carrey. He's probably in my top five favorite actors for The Truman Show and The Majestic alone. I know he overacts and plays up the slapstick humor, and I honestly wish he'd make more dramatic films, but he's Jim Carrey, and I just can't make myself dislike him.

So, now that I've spoken about the leading man, let's talk about the movie, shall we? Mr. Popper's Penguins is- Ok, let's stop right here. You know exactly what this movie is already. It's a Jim Carrey movie!

The movie begins with Mr. Popper, played by Jim Carrey, obviously, being the dad from Liar Liar. Over the course of the film, Bruce gains the mystical powers of Morgan Freeman, and proceeds to use them to create wacky hijinks involving a mystical mask that calls upon the powers of Count Olaf to bring shame to a popular series of surprisingly well written and hilarious books.

Ok, seriously, I'll stop. Jim Carrey starts off the film as a divorced businessman with two kids who can't stand him. Then through the magical powers of plot convenience, Jim Carrey ends up with 6 CGI penguins who do various adorable things throughout the movie. Except for all those stupid toilet jokes. Those aren't funny or adorable.

I actually enjoyed this film quite a lot, but like I said, I like Jim Carrey. If you're a fan of Jim Carrey, like I am, you'll probably find something to enjoy in this movie. He's slapstick, over the top, and as much like a real-life cartoon character as any comedic Jim Carrey role. He's good in it, but make no mistake, he is being Jim Carrey. If you do not like Jim Carrey, you will not like this film.

What I didn't expect is that there were actually several things in this movie I liked outside of Carrey. In fact, my favorite gag in the entire film is his assistant Pipi, who proclaims perilously p-filled prose about Popper and his preposterously perfect penguins. My favorite moment in the entire film involves her in the last few minutes.

The penguins themselves actually look really nice. You can tell they're CGI, but they're very nice looking CGI. The acting from the entire cast ranges from good (Madeline Carroll, his daughter, who is also in another film I'm quite fond of, Swing Vote) to passable (his son, Maxwell Perry Cotton, seems a bit stale at times) and there are some gags that actually had me laughing pretty hard. Oh! Also the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent from the Marvel movies is in this film. And he's great in it, but only because I kept thinking of him as the same character, and that the job as a zookeeper he has in this film is just what he does on weekends.

I also thought the wardrobe for Jim Carrey, having him wear a tux for a large portion of the film, was a nice touch.

But let's talk about what I didn't like about the film as well. It's a kids film, and while it's a very well done kids film, there's nothing here you haven't seen before. A lot of the charm in this movie comes from the penguins, but of course it requires a LOT of suspension of disbelief for any of the penguin's gags to actually register. Not to mention the idea that a guy could just keep penguins in his apartment and not get caught.

Jim Carrey also attempts to coin yet another catchphrase here, "Yeahbsolutely." It's exactly as irritating as you might imagine.

I'm actually going to get a bit spoilery here to talk about the films biggest flaw, so if you really think this film is going to contain any surprises for you, skip the next paragraph.

About 2/3rds of the way into the film a disaster strikes the penguins. Mr. Popper tries his hardest to protect them, to the point where he obviously sacrifices not only his job, and his status, but quite clearly his health. Unable to prevent disaster, Mr. Popper doubts his ability to take care of the penguins. Thus, he gives them to the zoo where they will actually be taken care of. He honestly thinks he's doing the right thing, and to me it came across as a really heartfelt scene. The movie then makes it apparent that we're supposed to be disappointed in him for this. Sorry, but no.

Alright, no more spoilers.

Other than that one major flaw, the film is enjoyable. If you like Jim Carrey, you'll find this enjoyable at the very least. If you don't, you'll probably want to steer clear of Mr. Popper, and his penguins.