Who's In It: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury, Ophelia Lovibond, Madeline Carroll, Clark Gregg, Jeffrey Tambor, David Krumholtz
The Basics: Mr. Popper (Carrey) is an ambitious, cutthroat businessman who will do anything to close a real estate deal. His children suffer through their every-other-weekend visits and his bosses tolerate him because of his constant success. Sure, he cracks jokes and shakes your hand--but there seems to be a hole in his soul. And this hole can only be filled by flightless birds. So when six Gentoo penguins show up at his door as his inheritance from his deceased father, they teach him about life, love, and getting your priorities straight. Sound familiar? It's kind of like listening to Cat's in the Cradle, but with more poop jokes and ice.
What's The Deal: This movie is definitely for young kids--anyone over the age of 8 will be insulted by how predictable it is. This is an adaptation of a 1938 novel of the same name, and once again, Hollywood mucked it up. Apparently they believe that the majority of audiences can't understand subtle, genuine emotion and have to be spoon-fed trite, overdone concepts in order to feel anything. I know that statistically, people don't want anything too new to rock their world--they just want something that puts a fresh enough spin on the old stuff to be watchable (hence, the addition of penguins to the "absentee dad realizes the error of his ways" story). However, the result is tired, unfunny, and completely beneath the talented performers trying desperately to skate their way to box office gold. I dare you to look up the plot of the book and tell me if you think that wasn't a better film than this drivel.
This Should Have Been Fun: Jim Carrey is back among the animals, people. This is where we first fell in love with him. There are few performers today that are as quick on their feet while knee-deep in an emu-snow leopard-parakeet mash up. Also joining the list of Carrey's onscreen exes is Carla Gugino (Watchmen, Sin City), who deserves better than this (not to mention Thor's Clark Gregg who is forced to play an animal expert/lame villain). When there are 6 penguins onscreen, you would think fun and whimsy would be a slam dunk. Sadly, you can see every plot point coming and it doesn't evoke any kind of emotion at all.
What This Movie Taught Me: That love can be bought, as evidenced by the children's quick turnaround from hating their dad to loving them when he had Barfy, Ziggy, Schmeckle, and whatever their names were tearing through his fancy shmancy New York apartment. Also that people who have zoological knowledge and are trying to thwart animal abuse are jerks, and that average citizens should defy and hopefully assault them at some point.
The Year's Most Peculiar Cameo: Angela Lansbury plays the owner of Tavern on the Green, which is the final property Mr. Popper needs to acquire in order to be made a partner at his big company. Of course, their plan is to tear it down and destroy all the years of history there, but she chose not to sell it to countless developers for that exact reason. She wants to know it will stay intact, so she is waiting for the right person to come along and keep the place alive. Can you guess where this goes? Of course you can. Now instead of taking your kids to see this, go watch March of the Penguins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks or even Murder She Wrote to educate your kids better (and possibly help spark their interest in solving mysteries, which is infinitely more interesting than anything in this film).