Sometimes you watch the perfect film for the moment you are in. You sort of plan it but you never really know that that film (unless its one you’ve seen before) will fit your mood and situation perfectly. There is a good chance that if you watched that film the next day, or even a week or month later, you might feel hugely different about it, but for the moment you are in, that film becomes perfect.
Mr Popper’s Penguins was that perfect movie for my mood and situation. My mood was lazy and tired, my situation was a Sunday afternoon, looking to kill some time. I didn’t want a heavy, powerful drama or an explosive, loud action film. I was looking for something easy, funny and effortless. Something that would tide me over until I could go to bed, ready for Monday. A Jim Carrey film where he has to live with a group of penguins seem to fit the bill.
I thought it would be a sappy, kiddy, ridiculous and overall, awful movie, that I would be able to say I watched but could very easily forget about when it was over. It turns out that it’s actually a bit more than that. I’m beginning to realise that I really like Jim Carrey.
This year I have seen him in Yes Man and Batman Forever and it turns out I like his slapstick, over-the-top, ridiculous humour. When I think back over the movies he has produced, there are loads that were my favourites growing-up, from Ace Ventura, to Dumb and Dumber, through to The Mask and my personal, overall favourite, Liar Liar. Even when he does serious roles, like The Truman Show, he demonstrates that he has some real acting talent.
Mr Popper’s Penguins was never going to stretch his serious acting muscles but it does play to his more goofy and outrageous comedy style. It’s a silly premise that has so many ridiculous holes in it that it shouldn’t work but I think every now and again, a film gets by on charm alone, and Mr Popper’s Penguins is no different.
It goes out of its way to appeal to the children’s market it’s designed for and this would usually put me off but Jim Carrey just about saves it. It has the usual clichés, a lesson to be learnt in fathering, an evil zookeeper trying to steal the penguins and an ending that would never really work in the “real world” but this film is supposed to be escapism viewing. It’s about a man who ends up keeping penguins, it was never going to be realistic.
Of course, along with Carrey, it’s the penguins that deliver the bulk of the laughs. They are cute, silly and slapstick-prone animals anyway so to have them get trapped in freezers, flood bathrooms and crash a posh, expensive party just amps up the humour even further. To appeal to the children, they do get “seven dwarf” style characters but in some cases this makes them even more appealing. I defy anyone not to laugh when Jim Carrey is dancing with them or when they are following Charlie Chaplin’s antics on-screen.
Mr Popper’s Penguins was exactly the kind of film I needed on a lazy, tired, effortless Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t going to challenge my thinking too much, I could switch off my focus and still follow the paper-thin plot but there was enough to keep me entertained and even make me laugh. There is a good chance that if I watched it again, right now even, I may enjoy it a lot less but sometimes that’s the magic of any movie, it fits a situation or mood perfectly.
Overall, My Popper’s Penguins is a silly, cliché filled kids film but it has its charms. The penguins are funny characters that get themselves into some very amusing situations. Add Jim Carrey on top-wacky form and you have the ingredients for a film that is well worth a watch – if you’re in the right mood.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)