Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jim Carrey no Ace as ‘Penguin’ papa (Video-Photo)

If wall-to-wall penguin poop jokes leave you helpless with laughter, congratulations, you are the target audience for “Mr. Pooper’s,” uhh, I mean “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” In yet another almost ghastly film wrapped around the gigantic talent that is Jim Carrey, he is Manhattan real-estate shark Tom Popper, a divorced 40-something with a fab Park Avenue bachelor condo. He has two kids, a tween boy named Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton) and a text-message-crazed adolescent girl named Janie
(Madeline Carroll), a beautiful ex-wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) and a chance to land a partnership if he can persuade venerable New York City socialite Mrs. Van Gundy (the marvelous Angela Lansbury, talent wasted) to sell the coveted Tavern on the Green, “the only privately owned real estate in New York City’s Central Park.” Popper, whose assistant is perky perfectionist Pippi (Ophelia Lovibond), is a variation of Ebenezer Scrooge. Even his own kids dislike him. As a boy Popper was nicknamed Tippytoe by his father, an explorer who was mostly absent and would phone home via ham radio to fill his son in on his latest adventure. After the father’s off-camera death, Popper receives a mysterious crate. Inside is the first of six gentoo penguins Popper receives and for reasons best known to director Mark Waters (“Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”) and screenwriters Sean Anders and John Morris, who co-wrote “Hot Tub Time Machine,” and Jared Stern, adapting the 1938 novel of Richard and Florence Atwater, Popper keeps the birds, played by real birds in many scenes, in his condo. Paging Ace Ventura.Like the ghosts of Jacob Marley, and Christ-mases Past, Present and Future, the penguins, named Loudy, Stinky, Captain, Sneezy, Dopey and Doc (I fibbed on the last three), change Tom Popper. Sniff. Between flatulence and poop jokes, penguins surfing in the Guggenheim, bizarre “Hurt Locker” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” references and lame-lamer-lamest family developments, Carrey gets a few chances to show why he is the most talented physical actor alive. In one scene, he imitates the penguins’ waddle for a few seconds and in another does a dead-on James Stewart impression, and you remember how he could have played the Grinch without the makeup and how his magnificently deranged Cable Guy switched personalities as quickly as we change cable TV channels. Will Carrey ever get the film he deserves?

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