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Friday, June 17, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins Movie Review -- Learning Fatherhood from Penguins

Potato On the Go:

March of the Penguins and Happy Feet are two films about penguins that I enjoyed on the big screen.  And when I saw the trailers and clips of Mr. Popper's Penguins, my first reaction was, "Penguins Again?!".  But well, since I was hooked by those two penguin movies, I thought there must be something in this film that I did not see in its trailer.  And good thing, and I really am thankful, that I did see Mr. Popper's Penguins because I really had one great time watching the movie!

Distributed by 20th Century Fox, Mr. Popper's Penguins is a family comedy film based on the children's book of the same name published in 1938.  The movie narrates the story of Mr. Tom Popper (Jim Carrey), a divorced businessman who is clueless when it comes to the important things in life - until he inherits from six penguins from his explorer father!  Popper's penguins turns his New York apartment into a snow winter wonderland.  But unexpectedly, these birds who can't fly, will take him to a different kind of adventure and change the rest of his life. 

First, Mr. Popper's Penguins story is a lot different from the March of the Penguins and Happy Feet.  And with its story that dates back to 1938, then Mr. Popper's Penguins makes it the first penguins story than the two films I just mentioned. 

At first, we were taken into the dilemma of Mr. Popper taking care of the 6 penguins with uniquely odd personalities, or should I say animalities =), in his apartment in New York City.  Of course, it's a disaster and their adventures and misadventures brought a lot of laughter, fun moments and wacky scenes.  I am not a huge fan of Jim Carrey but his perfectly adjusted crazy antics (like in The Truman Show) worked well in this movie.  It drove the comic scenes together with the funny stunts and action of the penguins and the antagonists.  And when I thought the movie will just be like this, the viewers were slowly transported to the familyness of Mr. Popper's Penguins.  All these hilarious scenes with penguins were rooted from Mr. Popper's longing for his farther and his love for his children... for his family.  And side by side the funny punchlines and stunts were heart warming scenes that depicted the love of a father to his children... that he will do anything and everything for his family.

My realization, animals indeed have a soft spot in family movies like this because although humans are far more superior than any other living creature in Earth, they somehow show us how genuine love and concern can be expressed in a different way.

One thing I also would like to point out is how the movie unexpectedly showed the ordeals of a father balancing his priorities as a provider and as father.

Another thing I noticed is the excellent cinematography in transition and establishing scenes (cityscapes, skyscrapers).  They are just picture perfect and these scenes were bonus points for me!  =)

The penguins, Captain, Loudy, Stinky, Nimrod, Lovey and Bitey plus the hatched, were instant crowd favorites. Half real and half animated (through CGI technology) the penguins acted almost very natural and this made them really adorable.  There were very few scenes that made them look animated but in general, they look like real penguins or to be technical about it, extraordinary penguins as they can do the amazing stunts, and the penguin dance!  =D  Kudos as well to Frank Welker for giving voice to the Gentoo penguins, especially for Loudy!  =D

In the acting department, all of them were brilliant.  As mentioned, Jim Carrey as Tom Popper did a right mix of his acting and delivered both a funny and touching interpretation of Mr. Popper.  Carla Gugino as Tom's wife Amanda and Madeline Carroll as Janie and Maxwell Perry Cotton as Billy acted their roles in the family very well.  His bosses, Mrs. Van Gundee (Angela Lansbury) and the zoo man Nat Jones (Clark Gregg) were all amusing in their characters but the scene stealer, aside from the penguins, is Mr. Popper's secretary Pippi (Ophelia Lovibond), who made the people laugh through her involuntary tongue twister lines and charming and funny mannerisms.

Set Design is prolific especially on Mr. Popper's office (although I was not able to see his actual office / desk) where the view of New York City's skyscraper is seen and the Tavern on the Green which injects the sense of tradition in the city.  I of course envy his loft apartment which served as the playground and habitat for the penguins  =).  I enjoyed every scene taken from his bathroom to bedroom, from his refrigerator to his TV set, from his to the condominium lobby.

As this is a family movie, I expected how the film will end but I don't consider it a bad thing.  If I bring kids to the movie, I don't want to spend time stopping them (in a theater!) crying as they did not like or were hurt with the film's ending.  It's the right ending to a family movie but the conflict and suspense they underwent were something that will excite the audience.  And with this, Mr. Popper's Penguins is just the right family movie for this year's Father's Day celebration. 

From a scale of 1 to 10 claps, I'm giving Mr. Popper's 7 1/2 claps with penguin dance steps and wing flaps!  From 20th Century Fox, Mr. Popper's Penguins is showing in theaters on June 17!

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