The rants and raves of a teenage cinephile who is just a little bit obsessed with Catherine O'Hara and Hayao Miyazaki.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011)

Of all the penguin movies out there, this may just be the worst. It's certainly not offensively bad by any means, but it is almost intolerably annoying, due largely in part to Jim Carrey's performance as the title character. I truly like Carrey's acting in even some of his worst movies, but here he's a mess - the screenplay is basically a series of fragmented ideas and jokes and in what can only be interpreted as a desperate attempt to make these fragments work, Carrey overacts to the point of idiocy. At one point, Carla Gugino's character sincerely states "you're a complicated man, Mr. Popper", a factoid both Carrey and the screenwriters clearly forgot to explore, despite the latter's desperate attempts at fleshing out the character with daddy and ex-wife issues. What is perhaps even more troubling is the confusing morality at play - the Penguin Expert, who is truly just doing what he can to help the penguins, is portrayed as evil, whereas Mr. Popper, a man who egregiously concludes that his New York apartment is a suitable place for Antarctic life is portrayed as a hero who can bend the law at will.

Of course, it's not all terrible. Carla Gugino actually makes good of her meager character and a few of the gags are actually extremely successful (especially the Guggenheim scene, which was just the right amount of ridiculous). In addition, the CGI penguins were undeniably adorable and surprisingly convincing. However, even though my target-audience-younger-siblings liked it, I do find myself worrying for the state of family cinema. If this kind of mindless, shallow filmmaking is what children are becoming used to seeing, more interesting family films are going to be come increasingly unaccessable.


Note: I have not read the book, but I have a hard time believing that a Roald Dahl novel could have been this vapid.

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