Posted on Friday, August 20th, 2010 by Adam Quigley
Well this is unfortunate timing. On the same day news broke of a rather lame-sounding potential Jim Carrey vehicle, confirmation has arrived that he’s going to be starring in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, a needless modernization of the children’s-favorite 1938 book that was originally poised to reteam Noah Baumbach and Ben Stiller.
Director Mark Waters, who’s filmography is decidedly mixed (high points: Mean Girls, The Spiderwick Chronicles; low points: Head Over Heels, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past), will direct. Learn about how the film plans to depart from the original story after the break.
The book tells the story of a poor house painter who dreams of exploring the Arctic, and even sends out letters to actual explorers. One day an explorer reads his letter on a radio broadcast, adding that he’s sent Mr. Popper a surprise in the mail: a pet penguin. Over time, the penguin grows lonely, prompting Mr. Popper to order a female penguin from a zoo. Before long, the penguins mate, leaving Mr. Popper to take of twelve penguins, while his house and family are left in disarray.
Where the book tells a tale of at least moderate complexity (for a children’s book, anyway), the concept has been significantly simplified for the film. In this version, Mr. Popper is a high-powered New York businessman who suddenly inherits six penguins, causing his upscale life to be turned upside down. But along the way, “Popper comes to understand the importance of family – human and otherwise”. That’s from the logline. I’d complain about spoilers, but I think all of us could’ve predicted that ending anyway.
As disappointed as I am that we’ll never get to see what Noah Baumbach and Ben Stiller would’ve done with this charming children’s tale, I find that the project grows more appealing when I pretend it’s a prequel to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.