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(Funny Family Film)
Last week, my friend Don Rasmussen asked me what movie he could take his young grandchildren to see. There wasn't a single movie I could recommend. This week there is! "Mr. Popper's Penguins" is one delightfully funny, message-driven movie that will delight people of all ages. Even Joyce, not at all a Jim Carrey fan, loved it.
Carrey plays the title character, a driven New York City businessman who has neglected his wife and children the way that his explorer father neglected him. The divorced Popper lives alone in an expensive apartment building, seeing his young son and teenage daughter every other weekend. His daughter has "issues" and rejects her father at every turn.
Popper wants nothing more than to see his name in granite on the upscale real estate firm he works for. That won't happen until or unless he can nail the purchase of the Tavern-on the Green (which ironically closed its doors as a posh restaurant recently). He must convince the owner (Angela Lansbury) that he is a man of unquestionable character, and would continue the restaurant's fine tradition. The firm's partners want to buy it and tear it down for more lucrative investments. That's the back story. The fun story is the arrival of a penguin, willed to him by his recently deceased father. Popper has no time for a penguin, trying his darndest to get rid of the pesty creature, with hilarious results.
When a crate with five more penguins arrives, pandemonium prevails, as the penguins take over the posh apartment, turning it into penguin paradise. When the kids come for the weekend, they think the penguins are for their pleasure, quickly warming up to their dad who has turned the place into a winter wonderland, complete with snow and ice. If you wonder what the penguins do while Popper is at work all day, they sit in front of the TV watching Charlie Chaplin waddle like a penguin.
There are loads of funny situations, including a hilarious scene at the Guggenheim and an escape from the zoo, where a nasty zookeeper (Clark Gregg) has taken the penguins, only to be freed by the Popper family and Popper's secretary, Pippi.
If you see a lot of "P's" in this review, wait until you hear Pippi pronounce her sentences. It is all good fun, even though you can see where it is going. Will Popper change? Will he reunite with his wife and kids? What will happen to the Tavern on the Green? What will happen to the penguins?
Besides being funny, the movie also gives the kids good messages about love, caring, and in the final scene, the importance of family, not only the human kind, but the penguin kind as well. Don't be late. That prehistoric squirrel and his acorn are back in a short, funny cartoon.
Rated PG, with some comic violence....and a little penguin poop that will draw giggles from the kids and groans from the adults.