As a child Tom Popper (Jim Carrey) sat by the two way radio to hear the latest exploits from his father the adventurer who spent more time in far away countries than he did with his son. Now as a grown up not only does Popper use his father's stories as a way to seal business deals but divorced from his wife his relationship with his two children is strained. But whilst his modern apartment might lack heart his heart in to sealing a deal to get Mrs. Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury) to sell her tavern which will seal him a promotion to partner. But then he learns that his father has passed away and his dad leaves him a penguin. Now one penguin doesn't fit in to Popper's life and nor does another 5 when they show up. But the arrival of these penguins brings a change in Popper as he begins to connect with his children and remember that there is more to life than business.
Evidently "Mr. Popper's Penguin" is inspired by a once popular children's book, loosely using characters to tell a new story. I had not even heard of the book let alone read it so haven't the foggiest as to how well this relates to the book. What I can say is that "Mr. Popper's Penguin" is basically "Liar, Liar" with penguins, yes Jim Carrey back on family friendly terms.
As such what we have going on is firstly Tom Popper's life turned upside down by the arrival of these penguins who wreck his apartment. If you just sit and think of what sort of mischief penguins can get up to you can imagine the humour of this; yes the bathroom floods, yes they poop, yes their squawk is like a foghorn and of course they peck. It is all very obvious but in a way the humour is fine for young children which are the intended audience for this movie.
There is also the other side to the movie, the "Liar, Liar" side where of course having turned his life upside down the penguins end up changing Popper's life. His relationship with his kids and ex-wife gets better and he sees that there is more to life than business. All extremely obvious but is charming enough for those children which this was made for.
The thing is that "Mr. Popper's Penguin" whilst fun not only ends up obvious but extremely safe as Jim Carrey plays things very much toned down. Toned down Jim Carrey is okay and he carries the movie nicely but I like manic Carrey and would loved to have seen more manic humour. But whilst "Mr. Popper's Penguin" is all about Jim Carrey there are plenty of recognizable faces in the supporting cast including Angela Lansbury and David Krumholtz.
What this all boils down to is as a movie for children "Mr. Popper's Penguin" is fine, it is relatively safe and inoffensive. But for grown ups it is a case that we've seen Jim Carrey do this before and whilst okay it is all too familiar.