Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011) **

PG, 94 min.
Director: Mark Waters
Writers: Sean Anders, John Morris, Jared Stern, Richard Atwater (novel), Florence Atwater (novel)
Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury, Ophelia Lovibond, Madeline Carroll, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Clark Gregg, David Krumholtz, Philip Baker Hall

Now, I like Jim Carrey as much as the next guy, which mean considerably less than it used to, but what about this cut and paste cutesy family movie appealed to him? Was it getting the chance to tell Philip Baker Hall he is old in every scene he has with him? Could it have been the challenge of having to sell the flimsiest obstacles the screenwriters could come up with? I mean really. The Tavern On The Green went under a couple of years back and its still a New York institution (although, no longer a restaurant). Are we supposed to believe there is any businessman in New York that thinks they could get away with plowing it over?

The penguins weren’t quite as annoying as I expected. I can say that for it. And, despite the poor choice in scripts, I still like Carrey. He puts his heart into it; you’ve got to give him that. But, to put the weight of the Carrey steam train on top of such a flimsy character as the cliché career man/absent dad who has no imagination and can’t connect with his kids. C’mon! Are we really supposed to believe that someone as sharp and witty as Carrey could be such a person? No matter how well he plays it, it’s just not in his nature to be subdued.

I’m not sure a story about a New York businessman who inherits penguins from his father and learns to be a better dad while they live in his New York penthouse could’ve worked with any performer. And why do they make the zoo guy such a creep? Is it an attempt to work against the captivity of animals? If so, they do nothing else to sell that message. I laughed at some of the things that happened, but really?! Really?!

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