25 October 2011 | LloydBayer
Perky Pooper's Pretty Penguins
Loosely based on the 1938 novel of the same name by Richard and Florence Atwater, this is a family movie that does not ask to be taken seriously.
As a kid, Popper never really knew his father, an explorer who was always away on some adventure or another. As an adult, he is a successful New York realtor, but divorced and lives away from his two kids. Mr. Popper's (Jim Carrey) latest assignment is to acquire a landmark restaurant owned by entrepreneur Selma Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury). Despite Popper's gift of the gab, Van Gundy will not sell the "Tavern on the Green" unless the buyer is a person of true value. After a not so convincing attempt at buying the tavern, Popper receives a strange inheritance from his late father— half a dozen penguins. At first Popper is annoyed and irritated with these frosty creatures but they start to grow on him. His children then fall in love with the penguins and soon enough, he starts to date his ex-wife (Carla Gugino) again. Soon enough, Popper converts his plush New York condo into a winter wonderland to accommodate his winged friends; much to the dismay of his neighbors and a pesky animal protection zoologist. Eventually, Popper is on the verge of getting his family back but his bosses fire him for ignoring his job. Popper must now decide between being a lovable family man or revert back to being a cold business man that he was.
Adults will find this movie filled with predictable moments, some of which are cliché ridden. Still, there is a lot of charm and feel-good moments if viewed as a family movie. Kids will find the penguins adorable, funny and mischievous, all at the same time. Having said that, there are few recurring jokes for adults as well, only thing is they are more potty than witty. Jim Carrey fans will find his rubber-face moments dwindled down to barely a handful of scenes. Although Carrey still has it in him, it is evidently clear that his on-screen magic has diminished over the years since "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective". As a woman caught between dating her ex-husband and a new prospect, Gugino's scenes are subtle but do not really add as much in terms of comic moments. There is however, a bit of feisty raunchiness in her eyes, and if this was manifested into deeds it would have really added an extra depth to the movie. As a guest appearance, I was delighted to see Ms Lansbury in this movie. Most noted as a TV icon in "Murder She Wrote", Lansbury's addition to the casting is well placed in a role as the regale New York entrepreneur. They could have added anyone from Glenn Close to Meryl Streep, but Lansbury is perfectly cast and commands respect in the very few scenes she appears in. Another standout appearance comes from the lovely Ophelia Lovibond as Popper's personal assistant, Ms Peppy. If you think the title of the movie is a bit of a tongue twister, wait till you hear Peppy; a person with precise paranoia in punctuating phrases with ample amounts of Ps. Pretty perky! With just ten titles to his credit, this is a decent effort from director Mark Waters. Although a far cry from "Happy Feet", Waters' depiction of six cute penguins, albeit CGI assisted, adds amusement and heart felt warmth to scenes of icy New York. As a result, this is a pleasant movie for families with young kids and is a preferred alternative to a trip to the zoo.