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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This isn't an educational movie, but there are incidental lessons about penguins -- their habitats, how they stay imprinted on mates, their loyalty, and their flightless nature.
Mr. Popper develops from a manipulative real-estate developer into a hands-on father who puts family first.
Positive Role Models
Although at first he's considered the kind of father who often disappoints his kids, Mr. Popper eventually learns to make them the top priority in his life. Although he's not perfect, he's there for his kids, and he learns from his own father's mistakes.
Violence & Scariness
As in every Jim Carrey movie, slapstick humor and physical comedy are on full display. But there's no actual violence, except that a zoo keeper is hit in the face ... with his own hand. A penguin's beloved egg is deemed unviable by a zoologist. Depictions of a busy but absentee father and how casually his death is received by his grown-up son may be confusing or upsetting to sensitive kids.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A former husband and wife go on a date and eventually kiss; meanwhile, the ex-wife has a boyfriend. A joke includes a Viagra reference (Popper proclaims his vigor and "Viagra-tality"). A teen girl pines over a boy whom she hopes will ask her to a school dance. A man and a woman flirt after they discover a mutual idiosyncrasy. A penguin called Lovey is accused of fathering the eggs of three different penguins.
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Mild insults include "butt," "stupid," "crazy," "dumb," "poo," "pee," and the like. Also "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
Product placement includes MacBook Pro. Many New York landmarks/teams are mentioned/featured prominently.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Champagne at a fancy party; dinner reception has alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this live-action comedy was inspired by the classic Newbery Award-winning children's book Mr. Popper's Penguins. Like the book, the movie is fine for early elementary-schoolers, who will giggle at Jim Carrey's slapstick antics and all the messes the penguins make. Language is tame -- with the occasional "butt," "poo," "pee," and "stupid" thrown into the dialogue -- and there's some flirting/kissing, as well as one joke with a Viagra reference. Kids may pick up a thing or two about how to care for penguins, but this movie is ultimately about learning to put family first ... and laughing at sight gags. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS is a surprisingly entertaining family comedy. Like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, this isn't a faithful adaptation of the original kids' book -- but considering that the original book was written in the 1930s, it's somewhat understandable to update the story. And since any movie dealing with animals is almost by definition sugary sweet, we can excuse some of the plot's predictably sentimental aspects, like the "all work, no family time" dad who realizes that "less work, more play" is a better way to parent. Once you're aware that the movie is more of an homage than a pure adaptation and that you pretty much know what's going to happen from the first moment you lay eyes on Carrey's malleable face, you just sit back and enjoy.
No, this isn't the kind of kid-friendly movie you immediately pre-order the DVD for after seeing, but between the penguin choreography (expect kids to do the shuffle-hop-step/"Word" tap dance for a few days), the slapsticky shenanigans, and Carrey's comedic gifts, there are enough laughs to keep parents awake and interested. One of the best parts of the movie is the fact that the penguins are pacified by watching Charlie Chaplin movies on TV; they just can't get enough of the legendary comedian. Then there's the adorable supporting character Pippi (Ophelia Lovibond), who speaks solely in alliterations beginning with the letter P. Just when you expect the gimmick to grow old, it keeps making you smile -- like the movie itself.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.