I’m probably one of the few people you’ll ever meet that remembers the book this movie is based on. Upon seeing the trailer and early posters, I was hit by a huge wave of nostalgia and was curious about this film. However, given how long it has been since this book was read to me by my second grade teacher, I had no real expectation aside from those that come along with any movie starring Jim Carrey.
I say this because this can often be either beneficial or detrimental to a film’s success, given that many of the people I’ve talked to have been divided when it comes to Jim Carrey’s performances. Much like professional wrestling, you either love or hate his films.
The basic story of the film follows Thomas Popper Jr. (Jim Carrey), a wealthy, fast-talking, divorced realtor who is given a Gentoo Penguin by his father, an adventurer who traveled around the world, after he passes away. After an attempt to send the penguin back, he ends up getting five more. The rest of the story follows Popper’s family and the impact of the penguins.
One thing I liked about this film, and about the more recent Jim Carrey films in general, is the steady flow of comedy. Most other comedies have jokes at the beginning and the end, but devote the rest of the film to out-of-place drama. Not so with this film. Even in the more dramatic scenes, they find a way to infuse comedy here and there. This style of comedic filmmaking works well for a film that’s only about an hour and a half long.
The acting in this film is a bit of a mixed bag for me. The acting from the main family worked really well, but I couldn’t really gauge the performances from the other actors. I believe that this is mostly due to the fact that Carrey’s performance kind of overpowers the other performances, which is both good and bad. It’s good that the main character has a constant presence, but if it pushes the other characters to the fringe, it lessens the intended impact of the few dramatic scenes.
Not much can really be said about the characters in this film since they seemed pretty much stock. Popper is the usual “all-business” father who begins to soften up throughout the film. His ex-wife (Carla Gugino) is the type where although they’re divorced, she still has feelings for him. The remaining characters are fairly stock, and are again mostly overshadowed by Carrey’s character.
While it is true that they used real penguins for the film, you don’t see as many of them as you may think when watching the film. The penguins that we are focused on appear mostly through CGI. However, from a logistics standpoint, it probably made the most sense to use CGI, given that each penguin had its own little quirks.
Now for those of you who wonder if this film is faithful to the original book, the answer is fairly straightforward. This film greatly strays from the story of the source material, the only similarity being the fact that Popper comes into possession of the penguins. If you’re a purist who actually remembers the original book, then this movie isn’t for you.
Now I know I may be putting this film in a negative light, but that’s not to say that this is a bad film. Overall, this film is entertaining, there’s a consistent flow of comedy and the story is a heartwarming, albeit a predictable one. However, if you’re looking for laughs or if you’re a parent looking for a film your children will enjoy, then this is a good choice. I would like to add that you’d best see this either at a dollar theater or as a rental. On my scale, this film gets a 3/5. An entertaining, but lackluster family film.