Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Mr. Popper’s Penguins</strong> (2011)

(On Cable TV, December 2018) It’s still far too early to start issuing definitive statements about Jim Carrey’s career, but with a bit of perspective it’s clear that by the early 2010s, he was still switching between the kinds of slapstick high-energy performances and more nuanced character work, not always comic. For old-school Carrey fans, the treat with Mr. Popper’s Penguins was seeing Carrey back in unapologetic slapstick form, even in a movie aimed at kids. The story here boils down to a workaholic Manhattanite realtor inheriting a few penguins in his high-rise apartments. Will it help him reconnect with his estranged ex-wife and kids? Well, of course it will. That’s not the point. The point are the penguins’ antics and how Carrey will react to them—or specifically how often he’ll slip on something and fall. While the CGI required to portray the penguins isn’t always convincing, it certainly gets the point across and lets the movie make its jokes. As usual for those kinds of comedies, the real fun of the film is to be found in the details: I was quite taken, for instance, by the protagonist’s assistant (played by Ophelia Lovibond) peppering her speeches with P-words. Carrey is almost up to form, while Carla Gugino does serviceable work in a rather dull role as the ex-wife. Rather amiable and conventional, Mr. Popper’s Penguins won’t be anyone’s idea of a great movie, but it does get us Carrey indulging in a lot of physical comedy, which is a good compensation.

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