Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno
|Featuring:||Jim Carrey … Mr. Popper
Carla Gugino … Amanda
Angela Lansbury … Mrs. Van Gundy
Ophelia Lovibond … Pippi
Madeline Carroll … Janie
Clark Gregg … Nat Jones
Jeffrey Tambor … Mr. Gremmins
|Producer:||Centro Digital Pictures Ltd.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
As a young boy in the 1970s, Tom Popper (Jim Carrey) eagerly jumped out of bed every time the ham radio would signal that his father was on the other end. He rarely saw his father, but we watch as his father tells of his latest adventure through the radio. As an adult, Popper is a real estate developer who lives for the next major acquisition. He doesn’t have much time for his kids, Janie and Billy (Madeline Carroll and Maxwell Perry Cotton) or even a life outside the real estate world in which he works. When he does try to be a father, he fails miserably.
Popper receives a penguin after his father’s death, and, a few days later, another box arrives with 5 more penguins. His children love the penguins and erroneously believe that they are a birthday present for Billy. Popper is so grateful for the attention from his kids, that he agrees to keep the penguins.
Keeping the penguins proves costly to Popper as he tries to purchase the Tavern on the Green Restaurant in Central Park. It is owned by Mrs. Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury), and all Popper has to do is convince her to sell and he can finally be partner in the firm. Mrs. Van Gundy, Popper’s ex-wife (Carla Gugino), and 6 adorable penguins all play a part in helping him finally realize the important things in life.
I read this book as a child, about 35 years ago; I read it again to some of my children about 10 years ago; I recently read it to my youngest children a few months ago. I love the book and Mr. Popper. If you are expecting any resemblance to the book, you will be disappointed. The only similarities to the book are penguins, and some names (Popper, Captain, Bill and Janie).
The penguins’ names include (besides Captain), Stinky, Lovey, Loudy, Bitey and Nimrod. Stinky gets his name because he passes gas intentionally toward a person and also poops on Popper’s shoe. Popper is hit in the crotch with a soccer ball. A zoo keeper is hit in the face several times, while Tom says, “Why are you hitting yourself?”. The phrase “who gives a rat’s butt?” is used. Popper picks up the penguins, and you see them poop in the toilet. Popper holds his chest and makes references to his nipples being cold. The word “freakin” is used.
God’s name is taken in vain. Tom prays with his penguins before dinner, thanking God for the meal and asking for protection over the ice caps. There are a few references to “sexy.” A Vanilla Ice song playing at the end does have some swear words.
Tom Popper lies constantly throughout the movie. He also pays a bribe so he can keep the penguins in his apartment.
There are some cute scenes involving Jim Carrey dancing with the penguins and the penguins watching television. The release of this movie over Father’s Day weekend should mean that fathers go see it with their children, and maybe some fathers will learn a lesson or two. Tom Popper learns how to communicate with his children and listen to them. There are additional lessons, such as forgiving yourself and others and letting go of disappointments.
Mr. Popper learns about love from his penguins, who bond with him and seek him out even when he is far from them. Likewise, God continually seeks after the lost.
Luke 15:4-6—“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’.”
This is a cute children’s movie, but please understand that this movie is not the classic Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Your children will like it, and it will entertain. My recommendation is to spend some quality time playing with your children and wait until a rainy day to see this modern day adaptation.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.