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.