Saturday, September 23, 2023


June 17, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

It has been 47 years since Dick Van Dyke danced with four animated penguins in Mary Poppins. There are six penguins, live and computer-enhanced, dancing with Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper’s Penguins. (The 85-year-old Van Dyke said at the movie’s premiere that he thought he recognized some of them, although, he quipped, “They’re older.”) But while Mary Poppins was a revelation in its day, most critics agree that Mr. Popper’s is nothing of the sort. To Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times, the best that can be said about the movie is that it is “a mildly amusing flight of fancy.” That’s generally the tone of most critics’ reviews. “It’s silly stuff, but genially funny,” Claudia Puig sums up in USA Today. “There is not a lot to object to in Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” A.O. Scott writes in the New York Times. “It will probably sell some penguin merchandise and provide about 90 minutes of tolerable jollity.” Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times, however, is not so tolerant. It’s a “stupefying[ly] dumb family movie,” he writes. And Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle agrees. “Everything about the idea of Mr. Popper’s Penguins sounds lovely, and everything about the actual movie is ugly.” He then warns: “What you get is something about a creep who becomes inconvenienced by a group of penguins who never stop passing gas, defecating and getting into all kinds of computer-enhanced antics.” On the other hand, Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News gives the film a rave review, arguing, “We could definitely have done without the scatological humor (up to and including penguin potty-training). But [director Mark] Waters has a gentle touch, and he shuns the cheap cynicism of most formulaic kid flicks. Which are perks positively any parent can appreciate.”