Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Tuxedo Mess Makers


18 June 2011| No Comments on Mr. Popper’s Penguins     by Sean Chavel


Poppycock. Mr. Popper’s Penguins puts Jim Carrey at the demands of looking after six penguins transforming his high rise penthouse into a muss, but what do you know, he comes to like the ice-water friendly birds. Carrey, as Mr. Popper, is a divorcee with two kids that would rather be anywhere but under his care – that is until Dad gets penguins at his house and then they love Dad. Do young kids pick up the lesson that an absent father can win over his kids as long as he adopts a bunch of pets? Anyhow, low aspirations are demonstrated the moment when Carrey is hanging on from the second floor brink and one of the  penguins – any dumping ground could have been chosen – decidedly poops onto his face (at least it’s off-camera and just implied). Some of Carrey’s lively good cheer gets you cracking a grin or two, however brief, but overall this movie is schmaltzy and annoying.

The penguins go by these names: Captain, Nimrod, Lovey, Loudy, Bitey, and you betcha, Stinky. Each one of them sticks faithfully to their one given trait. Perhaps Captain has a few more brain cells that let him be diverse, because hey, he’s the Captain. Because Popper’s kids (Madeline Carroll as the teen with boy trouble, Maxwell Perry Cotton as the tyke with, er, not much to do) enjoy being over at dad’s so often, they encourage him to get back together with mom (Carla Gugino).

Meanwhile, Popper is decimating from business shark to dodo brain at work – at least according to the board of bosses at work. Because get this: Popper has been unable to close a real estate deal on the Tavern on the Green – the last private property that rests upon Central Park – within the first week of negotiations. Not many audience members freeze to consider this. But I do. I think it’s depressing that the movie uses that cliché of the harried divorcee dad whom with one deal potentially falling through the cracks (don’t worry, it doesn’t) is about to lose his career. Boss Franklin (Philip Baker Hall of “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights,” in the worst role in his career) seemed ultra-peeved that Popper couldn’t close the deal over the weekend. Uh huh, multi-million dollar real estate acquisitions are supposed to transpire over a single 10-minute meeting, according to this screenplay.

While career disaster is pending, Popper has the concurrent problem of fending off a pesky zookeeper (Clark Gregg) from taking away his pets. But Popper isn’t just a father to two, he’s a father to six more that have now become family. Popper turns up the air conditioner and shovels in snow off his balcony to create something of an ice castle out of his place. The script scoots from one ice sliding adventure after another until your brain becomes numb. Still, the penguins have a cute scene where they swim down the corkscrew corridor of the Guggenheim Museum.

Kids 4 to 9 will giggle at the movie’s antics. But if you’re old enough to read this, then you probably want to stay home and re-organize your book shelf, or something.

97 Minutes. Rated PG.


Film Cousins: “101 Dalmations (1996); “Buddy” (1997); “March of the Penguins” (2005); “Happy Feet” (2006).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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