Welcome to the twilight stage of most American comedian’s careers: the middling family comedy. The once cutting edge Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Adam Sandler have all succumbed to the poor script and fat pay check, and now Jim Carrey joins the gang. Though all is not lost, as some Carrey mugging and penguin mischief do raise some giggles.
Carrey plays hot shot real estate agent Tom Popper, a man married to his job (and not his ex-wife Carla Gugnio) and has been neglecting the kids. Six penguins end up on his doorstep and cause havoc in his personal and professional life. Cue life lessons.
We’ve seen this set up a million times before: a money obsessed career man gets his life turned upside down by some crazy set up and then realises the love of his family is more important than money. Contrived sentimental Hollywood claptrap that director Mark Waters could have really done better with. He brought us the great twist on teen comedy Mean Girls, and one of the best kids movies last decade, the Spiderwick Chronicles. And Carrey too could have raised the bar, after his brilliant pantomime performances in Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events
Saying that the CGI penguins are pretty realistic, and some of the pratfalls and poop gags got the young crowd in stitches in the first half. Jim Carrey pulls out some rubber faced goodness, pus the slip and slide set piece at the Guggenheim is gold. I did feel sorry for the zookeeper though. Made to be the villain of the piece, he figures these animals need veterinarian assistance and a proper place to live. Funnily enough I agreed with him.
Mr Popper’s Penguins could have been better considering the talent involved, but for some harmless laughs for the kids you can’t get icier company than this.