Tom Popper (Jim Carrey) grew up having very little interaction with his father, who was off exploring the world. When he grows up, he spends most of time on his work and ignores his children. One day his father sends him an unusual gift: a penguin. Popper can't help but wonder why his father would send him a penguin. He tries to get rid of it, but accidentally orders five more. When his children and ex-wife show up to celebrate his son's birthday, the kids are taken with the penguins. And Popper finally gets to connect with his kids while his work suffers.Written by
By now, Jim Carrey's career is one lined with a long history of hit and misses—from the zaney and energetic debut of Ace Ventura, to the less than stellar murmur of say, Bruce Almighty, Carrey is one of those comedic actors who occasionally takes his brand of comedy to breaking point, but somehow manages to stick around and continue raking in the dough. Flash forward now to the summer of 2011 where the comedic landscape in terms of family features in the cinema all seem to heading in the same direction—talking animals—and you have a no brainer; hey, let's put those cute little fellas from Happy Feet in with that guy who made us a lot of money by pulling dumb faces! Sure; sounds like it could have potential, but in order to reach that potential one would have to, you know, write a script and not just mash them together with a generic by-the-numbers Big Business Man Learns To Be A Good Dad plot. Instead however what we're left with is an insulting homage to all things kitsch and puerile that repeats the same jokes over and over ad nauseam to the point of sheer boredom.
The plot is simple: Mr. Popper is a wealthy business man who has all the riches in the world, but lacks the one currency that sells movies; love. Struggling to father his children in the same way that his father provided little support for him, Mr. Popper ends up inheriting a box of penguins from his recently deceased dad as a means of (somehow) connecting and finding the love that he lost through his short-sighting endeavours. What follows of course is exactly what you might expect from that brief synopsis, and maybe a quick look at a minute of the trailer. At first driving Popper up the wall, the penguins who each have their own delightful trait (we have Captain, Loudy, Bitey, Stinky, Lovey and Nimrod) soon warm up to their cold-hearted owner and vice versa as everyone involved learns that big fancy houses and a six figure income only matter as long as you're having fun and loving everything and wearing sweaters and giving high fives and being as routinely sickly as humanely possible without starring in an advertisement for the Nintendo Wii. Oh, and there are poop and fart jokes; and penguins running into things; plenty of them.
As much of a stinker that the script is however, there was a time when one could rely on Jim Carrey and his assorted hijinks to bounce off stage and interrupt everyone's heavy eyelid batting and make us laugh, but even Carrey who is clearly showing his age here in this glossy advertisement for The American Dream fails to make much of an impression. There are a couple of moments here and there where Mr. Popper can be amusing, but for the most part he's like a bland, dislikeable caricature of Donald Trump. I mean, this is the same guy who made a lawyer the funniest person the screen during the summer of 1997— surely a salesman shouldn't be a problem? But it is; a real big one. And as it comes to its long overdrawn erratic conclusion, you get the impression that Carrey's comedic career is one destined to drown in a sea of similar safe-play Eddie Murphy-esque family comedies that leave adults snoring and kids running up and down the aisles. As Pippi Peponopolis might say; it's positively petulant, pandering and painful, Mr. Popper! So please, please stop pretending like love is the answer when clearly money is all that was on the minds of everyone involved here—that's you're problem and how you fix it—obviously—is to give everyone at 20th Century Fox a penguin. Yabsolutely!
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