The filmmaker: OK, how about this? People love Jim Carrey. People love penguins. We put them together and what do we have? A guaranteed family comedy hit!
Studio executive: Yeah! The screenplay will practically write itself. It's like we'll have to put no effort into the project whatsoever and still make countless millions. Aren't we geniuses?
"Mr. Popper's Penguins" is as generic and predictable as movies get. Despite its potentially funny premise, it takes no chances and results in one of the blandest comedies of the year. The plot can essentially be summed up in a movie trailer with one of those obnoxious announcers. Carrey plays Mr. Popper, a divorced businessman who's on the verge of a big promotion at work. Everything is going his way until Mr. Popper finds out that his estranged father has passed away. Mr. Popper receives a crate from his late dad and reluctantly inherits ... six Emperor Penguins. Yeah, I know it's stupid. Just go with it.
Various slapstick antics ensue from the penguin's arrival, making Mr. Popper's life crazy. Since his two children take a liking to the penguins though, Mr. Popper is left with no choice but to keep them around. In due course, the penguins help Mr. Popper to reconnect with his family and learn what's really important in life. I hope I haven't spoiled anything for you.
Carrey, God bless him, gives it his all here. For my money though, his usual shtick hasn't been that funny since "Bruce Almighty" in 2003. The film's real scene-stealer is Ophelia Lovibond as Mr. Popper's British assistant who incorporates multiple "P" words into every sentence she utters. As for the penguins, they're all undeniably adorable. But if I wanted to see a movie with cute penguins I would rent "March of the Penguins" or "Happy Feet." At least the penguins in those movies didn't poop all over the place.
As you might have guessed, "Mr. Popper's Penguins" didn't exactly wow me. But to be fair, I'm not the target audience for the movie. If you're under the age of 10, maybe you'll get a kick out of seeing Carrey take a soccer ball to the groin or the mere sight of penguins. The film is inoffensive and will likely make for ideal children's entertainment. For the adults in the theater though, be prepared to look at your watches a lot.