Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: Mr. Popper's Penguins

Last week, the wee ones and I attended a preview screening of Mr. Popper's Penguins. Mister Man has been beyond excited since he discovered this movie was being made back in April. His class was in the process of reading the book, and he was enjoying it immensely. Seeing the book come to life was a dream come true to him.

After seeing the previews myself and realizing that Mr. Popper was being played by Jim Carrey, I knew the movie was going to be nothing like the book. As someone who generally avoids seeing movies based on books - especially books I've enjoyed - that put up a little red flag for me. As much as Mister Man loved reading the books, how would he do with the movie being different?

Having seeing the movie now, I can count on one hand the things in the movie that are the same as the book. It's hard to even say the movie is based on the book with all the differences. In a way, I think that made it easier for Mister Man to enjoy it, as it was a whole new story. I would have been just as happy with the original book turned into a movie, set in the beginning of last century and all.

In the movie, Carrey plays Mr. Popper, a man who grew up with a father who was always traveling to remote places looking for "something" that is never defined for us. He keeps in touch with his son primarily through radio contact when he can, but Mr. Popper grows up to be nothing like his father. He is a hard dealing, slick businessman who works for a company purchasing real estate to turn into a whole new entity. He's thisclose to making partner at the firm, and all he needs to do is get the owner of Tavern on the Green in Central Park to sell to him.

Enter the penguin who is left to him by his father in his will. Although there are more penguin excrement jokes in the movie than I needed, hilarity ensues. Mr. Popper does his best to return the penguin but accidentally orders five more. And then his son comes over to celebrate his birthday - he and his wife are divorced, and Mr. Popper's son and daughter live primarily with her - and thinks the penguins are his for his birthday.

The fact that the movie doesn't take itself seriously helps. A lot. Mr. Popper's assistant Pippi, played by Ophelia Lovibond, speaks completely in "P" alliterations. Amanda - Mr. Popper's ex-wife, played by Carla Gugino - has an over-the-top the world is full of sunshine and roses boyfriend Rick played by James Tupper. And then there's the wonderful surprise of seeing Angela Lansbury play Mrs. Van Gundy, the owner of Tavern on the Green.

Yes, the story is predictable. And yes, it's completely different from the book. And yes, there is some sophomoric humor tossed humor tossed in there that I personally could have done without. That said, the wee ones really enjoyed it. Mister Man was bouncing in his seat, and Little Miss was enthralled. It wasn't too scary for her (and trust me, she ran up to her room because Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was too scary for her).

There were many cute parts in the movie from the penguins sleeping with Mr. Popper to the penguins invading a black tie event looking for him to Captain flying using a kite. It was better than I had expected, although still so different from what I had anticipated walking into the movie.

The movie opens today, June 17, in theaters nationwide. It is rated PG and runs just over an hour and a half.

In the interest of full disclosure, the wee ones and I attended a screening of "Mr. Popper's Penguins." I have not received any compensation, and as always, all opinions expressed remain my own.

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