Posts Tagged ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’


penguinsJim Carrey is back acting opposite wildlife, but unlike the “Ace Ventura” movies, this time out he’s not talking out of his bum, or doing anything which parents may take issue with. “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” is total family entertainment, paced for young ones but with enough story to keep older kids and parents interested.

Loosely based on Richard and Florence Atwater’s classic 1938 children’s book the movie sees Carrey playing the title character, a ruthless NYC real estate agent who inherits a penguin from his late, explorer father. Through a series of misunderstandings one penguin becomes six, and the entire brood becomes a birthday gift for Popper’s young son. As the penguins take over his life, Popper’s professional career—he’s trying to engineer a deal to buy New York’s legendary Tavern on the Green restaurant—goes into a deep freeze but his formerly flightless personal life soars.

There are laughs in the film, more for the kids than the adults, but I’m not sure I would classify this as a comedy. Carrey has a few funny moments, the penguins—who could be more rightly called Mr. Popper’s Pooping Penguins—engage in some animal antics, and Popper’s “p” popping personal assistant takes alliteration to new heights, but the movie is more about heart than humor. It’s about the importance of families, of spending time with the ones you love, whether they are ex-wives, estranged kids or flightless tuxedo-wearing birds.

Carrey finds a balance between his expert slapstick and the more naturalistic style of acting he’s flirted with in movies like “The Majestic.” The clowning is fun, but his journey to becoming a better dad is the more effective and memorable part of the story.

This isn’t the first time Carrey has appeared in a live action kids’ flick but the dark edge he brought to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” has been replaced with a sweet side, despite looking up penguin recipes on-line as an initial solution to his penguin problem.

“Mr. Popper’s Penguins” isn’t a classic children’s film, but in a summer cluttered with movies like “The Hangover Part 2” it is a welcome family alternative.

Mr. Tupper’s penguin on-set penguin adventure RICHARD CROUSE METRO CANADA Published: June 10, 2011 3:

64e3cea340d8bdede1ce2775439eJames Tupper, the Nova Scotia-born star of Mr. Popper’s Penguins, calls his co-stars “ornery.” No, he’s not talking about Jim Carrey or Angela Lansbury. He’s referring to the movie’s aquatic, flightless actors.

“They kind of look like toddlers wearing a tuxedo with their chests sticking out in this really open, sweet way,” he says. “But when you get close to them, they will give you a nip.”

To accommodate the birds, the film’s set was kept at below zero. “You could see your breath all day long,” says Tupper. As for working with them he says, “they’re not great actors,” but performing opposite the Antarctic imports was less strange than acting without them.

Computer generated penguins were used for several scenes, which meant Tupper would have to emote to a mark on the wall.

“There would just be a dot on the wall and they would put the penguin in later. Sometimes the director would be back there saying, ‘Oh! Oh! I’m going to bite you!’ and act stuff out for you to react to but we all got this weird ‘acting to the dot’ effect.”

Tupper, best known for his work on television shows like Men In Trees (where he co-starred with his fiancée Anne Heche) and Grey’s Anatomy, says the penguins weren’t the set’s most intimidating presence. At first, anyway.

“It was a little bit intimidating when I first met him,” he says of Jim Carrey. “He slapped me on the back and was like, ‘Jim or James?’ I said, ‘You know what. I think you’ve probably got Jim covered. I’m going to stick with James.’”

That intimidation soon gave way to a lively collaboration.

“He’s really fun. It’s a playful set. He improvises a lot and generally has the crew chuckling most of the day.”

James, however, wasn’t the only member of his family impressed with Carrey. His nine-year-old son is also a fan.

“When we read the book Mr. Popper’s Penguins to him in bed he got so excited when he found out Jim Carrey was in it. He said, ‘Can you please get Jim Carrey to sign it?’ So I did. I took it to New York and he signed it and I brought it back and I said, ‘Would you like me to sign it too?’ No! Why! I said, ‘Cut me a break. I’m in the movie.’”

Books for little readers become big screen fodder In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA Published: June 08, 2011

Mr.-Poppers-Penguins-movieAccording to Wikipedia, books written specifically for children have existed since the 17th century.

Some of those books and stories have endured — Charles Perrault’s Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Some have not — remember the 1658 book, Orbis Pictus in Bohemia? However, stories for kids remain among the top sellers at bookstores and on line.

Hollywood has been paying attention. As far back as 1910, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz graced the silent screen and this summer, 101 years later, the parade of movies adapted from children’s books shows no sign of slowing.

Next week Jim Carrey brings the Richard and Florence Atwater book Mr. Popper’s Penguins to life, and this weekend Heather Graham stars in an adaptation of Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer.

In the world of kid lit, the name Dr. Seuss looms larger than most. His books are classics. Unfortunately, the movies made from his work tend not to be.

Although Theodor Geisel (the good doctor’s real name) had great success on the small screen with animated specials like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, he was reluctant to allow his creations to be turned into films.

Two uneven adaptations — Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Mike Myers as The Cat in the Hat — so annoyed the writer’s widow, Audrey, that she vowed to never again allow live-action versions of her husband’s books.

Apparently animation adaptations are OK, and in 2008, Horton Hears a Who!, a big CGI film featuring the voices of Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Carol Burnett earned good reviews and broke the Dr. Seuss silver screen curse.

One writer whose work seemed made to entertain kids at movie theatres was Roald Dahl. From Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (later remade by Tim Burton as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) to James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr. Fox to The BFG (Big Friendly Giant), his stories have easily adapted to live-action, stop-motion or traditional animation treatments.

Of course, not all movies that sound like adaptations of children’s books are the real deal. Think twice before you rent The Woodsman.

The title may sound reminiscent of Little Red Rising Hood, but it’s a dark drama about decidedly non-kid-friendly events and although Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? is based on Hansel and Gretel, be careful. It’s the stuff of nightmares for little ones.