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Mark Waters
Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury, Ophelia Lovibond, Madeline Carroll, Clark Gregg, Jeffrey Tambor
Writing Credits:
Sean Anders, John Morris, Jared Stern, Richard Atwater (novel), Florence Atwater (novel)

Chill out with the funniest family comedy of the year! Jim Carrey stars as Tom Popper, a successful businessman who’s clueless when it comes to the really important things in life...until he inherits six “adorable” penguins, each with its own unique personality. Soon Tom’s rambunctious roommates turn his swank New York apartment into a snowy winter wonderland — and the rest of his world upside-down. Adapted from the award-winning classic children’s book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a cool blast of fun for all ages!

Box Office:
$55 million.
Domestic Gross
$170.700 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Video Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 12/6/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director Mark Waters, Editor Bruce Green and Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Hollander
• “Nimrod and Stinky’s Antarctic Adventure” Short
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• “The Legacy of Mr. Popper’s Penguins” Featurette
• “Ready for Their Close-Up” Featurette
• “Ladies and Gentoomen” Featurette
• “Stuffy Penguin Theater” Featurette
• “Penguin Pandemonium” Featurette
• Original Story Sampler
• Trailer
• Previews and Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Mr. Popper's Penguins [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 11, 2011)

Had it come out in 2006, I suspect 2011’s Mr. Popper’s Penguins would’ve been a big hit. With Jim Carrey not far removed from the $242 million-grossing success of 2003’s Bruce Almighty and with penguins a hot cinematic commodity via 2005’s March of the Penguins and 2006’s Happy Feet, Popper’s might’ve been a license to print money. Jim Carrey romps with penguins – what more would audiences want?

In 2011, however, the answer came back “something else”. Apparently the moviegoers’ appetite for all things penguin has waned dramatically over the last five years. Current cinematic release Happy Feet Two has been a box office disappointment, and with a take of $68 million, Popper’s didn’t do much better. Carrey’s not starred in a significant live-action hit since 2003, so Popper’s did nothing to revive his career.

Tommy Popper (Henry Keleman and Dylan Clark Marshall at different ages) grows up with an absentee father. Popper’s pop explores the world and misses most aspects of his son’s life.

As an adult, Popper (Carrey) maintains a lesser than ideal connection with his own kids. Obsessed with his high-end real estate job, he doesn’t pay enough mind to his daughter Janie (Madeline Carroll) and son Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton), both of whom live with his ex-wife (Carla Gugino). This doesn’t figure to improve when Popper gets a tough assignment at work, one that will result in his promotion to partner if he succeeds.

In the middle of this, Popper’s dad dies and he gets an unusual inheritance: a penguin. Popper tries to get rid of the little beast, but he can’t find a taker in New York, and when he tries to ship the critter back to Antarctica, he sends the wrong message. Because of this, he ends up with a luxury condo inhabited by six penguins. Popper needs to figure out how to deal with the birds, manage his job and also work through family topics.

Based on a 1938 novel, Popper’s appears to be a tremendously loose adaptation. It seems to take the basic conceit of “penguins as family members” and go its own way; I suspect it boasts little more connection to the text than that. Why bother to adapt a book when all you do is use the title? I guess for name recognition, as the novel has maintained a place in elementary school curricula for decades.

The studio probably should’ve simply titled the film Jim Carrey Romps with a Mix Of Real and Computer-Animated Penguins, as that’s about all it offers. Does this mean it lacks pleasures? No, for Carrey remains talented enough to help deliver occasional merriment, even when paired with artificial birds.

But don’t expect Classic Carrey here. Instead, we pretty much get Cruise Control Carrey, as old Jim rarely attempts to spread his wings. While perhaps not as manic as mid-late-90s Carrey, the actor sticks with the tried and true and mugs his way through the flick.

Though apparently the actor wasn’t the producers’ first choice for the role, it seems like they essentially hope the combination of Carrey and penguins will carry the film. That means we get little more than a rudimentary plot – and a stale one at that. We’ve seen plenty of movies about the career-obsessed dude who needs a push to remember his love for his family – with the requisite former wife who he manages to charm back into his life.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the flick’s plot, recycled as it may be. And there’s really nothing substantially awry with Popper’s itself – it’s just relentlessly, totally ordinary. Carrey delivers decent laughs – but not more. The story manages moderate intrigue – but not more. And the characters boast a modicum of life and personality – but not more.

All of this makes Mr. Popper’s Penguins totally ordinary family entertainment. Could it have been better? Definitely, but it also could’ve been worse. This ends up as a mild amusement - but not more.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Mr. Popper’s Penguins appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Very few concerns cropped up here.

Sharpness was strong. From start to finish, the flick presented crisp, concise images without any significant issues connected to softness. Jagged edges and shimmering didn’t occur, and edge enhancement remained absent. Source flaws also failed to present any problems, as the movie offered a clean image.

In terms of colors, the film favored a mild golden tint. Though it was reasonably natural, that overtone affected the hues. I thought the colors looked fine despite the golden feel; they were solid within the design parameters. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows were generally good. A few shots appeared somewhat thick, but low-light images were usually pretty nice. I thought this was a consistently high-quality presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it seemed more than satisfactory. It favored the usual “comedy mix” and didn’t present many chances for the soundscape to explode. We did find a few action scenes – most of which involved penguin antics – but the track usually opted for stereo music and general environmental material. Though these didn’t seem exciting, they opened up the piece in a satisfying manner.

I thought audio quality appeared positive. Speech seemed distinctive and natural, with no rough tones or other issues. Score and songs displayed clear, warm music, and effects functioned well. Those elements were reasonably realistic and full throughout the movie. Again, nothing here dazzled, but the mix accentuated the action in a good way.

A mix of extras fill out the set. We launch with an audio commentary from director Mark Waters, editor Bruce Green and visual effects supervisor Richard Hollander. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, various effects, working with real penguins and creating fake ones, audio, editing and some other topics.

While never a scintillating commentary, the discussion proves to be pretty informative. It usually moves along at a good clip and it covers the appropriate subjects in a satisfying manner. This ends up as an enjoyable chat.

We get a new animated short entitled Nimrod and Stinky’s Antarctic Adventure. It runs six minutes, 11 seconds and follows the movie’s penguins as they evade another attempt by Nat the zookeeper to capture them. It provides minor amusement. (By the way, it sounds like Clark Gregg reprises the role of Nat, but the short lacks credits so that’s just a guess.)

12 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 14 minutes, 32 seconds. We see a little more of young Tommy, a running thread between Popper and a homeless man, additional moments between Popper and supporting characters like his ex-wife’s boyfriend and a rival condo owner, more with the penguins, and additional story exposition. Some amusing bits emerge, but we don’t find anything significant that would’ve added much to the final product.

We can view these with or without commentary from Waters, Green and Hollander. They give us some background for the scenes and let us know why the segments got the boot. The commentary seems chatty – well, except for the one scene the guys inexplicably skip - and delivers useful info.

After this we get a Gag Reel. It goes for two minutes, five seconds and concentrates on the antics of Jim Carrey. That comes as no surprise; we get some bits with others, but the manic Carrey dominates. The piece moves fast enough – and runs short enough – to become a decent addition.

A few featurettes follow. The Legacy of Mr. Popper’s Penguins lasts four minutes, four seconds and includes notes from Open Road Media Children’s Strategy Advisor Barbara Marcus, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book author Anita Silvey, and authors’ grandchildren Alec and Kate Bishop. The program provides a quick recap of the original novel’s creation and success. It’s awfully brief but it gives us some good material.

During the eight-minute, 28-second Ready for Their Closeup, we hear from Waters, Hollander, penguin expert Scott Drieschman, animal trainer Larry Madrid, producer John Davis, executive producer Derek Dauchy and Jessica Tuchinsky, visual effects producer Blondel Aidoo, and actors Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, David Krumholtz, Clark Gregg, Maxwell Perry Cotton, and Madeline Carroll. This reel looks at the use of real penguins in the movie. It’s a pretty tight featurette that comes with ample behind the scenes footage.

Ladies and Gentoomen occupies five minutes, 55 seconds and features Seaworld senior level aviculturist Jessica Perry. She teaches us a little about penguins and lets us get to know the movie’s feathered actors better. Like “Closeup”, this one delivers a good tutorial.

Under Stuffy Penguin Theater, we find a four-minute, 21-second reel. It shows the use of stuffed penguins on the set; these acted as stand-ins that were later replaced by CG birds. It’s a fun way to inspect what the actors had to dead with during the shoot.

With Penguin Pandemonium, we see a three-minute, 12-second glimpse of the set. Accompanied by commentary from Waters, Hollander and Green, we watch the prep work for some scenes that would use CG penguins. Like “Theater”, we find a useful exploration of the methods used to bring fake penguins to life.

An Original Story Sampler lets us check out parts of the original 1938 novel. It provides the first 18 pages from the book. That makes it a tease, but it’s still fun to see a little of the movie’s inspiration, especially since the film makes so many changes.

The disc opens with ads for Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked, Marley and Me: The Puppy Years and Tooth Fairy 2. We also find the movie’s trailer and a Sneak Peeks for Spy Kids: All the Time in the World and Tooth Fairy 2. (Note that the Fairy 2 sneak peek differs from the ad that launches the Blu-ray.)

Two extra discs accompany the Blu-ray. One offers a DVD version of the film, while the other gives us a digital copy of Popper’s. Both add some value to the release.

Look up the definition of “passable family entertainment” and you’ll probably find a picture of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. It comes across as wholly tolerable and occasionally enjoyable but never remotely inspired. The Blu-ray gives us excellent picture as well as pretty good supplements and audio. This is a decent flick that never leaps to a higher level.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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