A cute, simple 1938 American kids book gets a 21st century makeover with rubber-faced Jim Carrey as Tom Popper, a hard-hearted businessman who gets a mysterious delivery from his late, estranged dad. Inside the crate deposited at his swish Manhattan apartment is a penguin, and soon another box arrives with five more of the waddling avian creatures. It's not long before they have taken over his home (two nesting in a drawer of his fridge), but as Popper's heart thaws (especially when they produce baby penguins… awww) he also discovers the adorable penguins are helping him reconnect with his two kids and his ex-wife (Gugino) – that is when they (the penguins) aren't pooping all over the place.
The penguins – a mix of real ones and computer-animated trickery that gives them expressions and the ability to line-dance with Carrey – are completely gorgeous and huggable, but their antics don't actually get as much screen time as you would expect. Instead, we have to endure Popper's predictable metamorphosis from arrogant rich bloke to warm, fuzzy guy, which may bore younger children who'd much rather watch the penguins as they fart, poop (both of which they do A LOT) and slide around his apartment. Carrey, meanwhile, is more restrained than fans of his comedic roles will like, and aside from a couple of scenes in which he appears a little bonkers, you are left wondering why he was cast in the first place if director Mark Waters (who made the far superior Mean Girls) wouldn't let him do his zany thing. Low on laughs, this family comedy-fantasy is disappointing stuff. But at least the penguins are sweet.
Is Mr Popper's Penguins suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Do note that younger children who fall in love with the penguins may find the ending a little sad.