MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS (PG for some mildly naughty penguin bodily fluids stuff):
Jim Carrey's Hollywood career runs a gamut from the zany rubber-faced antics in mindless comedies like "Ace Ventura" & "Dumb & Dumber" to some remarkable (but unsalable) serious works like "The Truman Show" & "Eternal Sunshine," revealing an extremely novel, talented fellow who never seems to find his niche on the commercial screen.
Now, after some years' lapse, he returns - more mature in every way - to play a variant on the dopey family man caught in dippy situations, a role that he wears comfortably; he's satisfied to take a backseat to a pack of loopy, wingy, irrational penguins, which, after all, are there mainly for the kids in the audience.
The critters are an unexpected gift, let loose in his apartment, to the delight of his two kids and, to some degree, to his estranged wife - all of whom gradually, expectedly, emerge from a series of penguins-out-of-the-box antics that include intruding into Carrey's business life. (He's a successful wheeler-dealer who buys up old city properties which are then turned into money-making profits; he's now honing in on the Central Park relic, Tavern on the Green - owned by scene-stealing Angela Langsbury). He's caught in the middle between sharkish bosses who want a quick done-deal and what he & his family think is right. Guess who wins out at the end - and brings the family back together again. Aw, gosh!. It's Plot 23, folks, dressed up with loads & loads of silly penguin stuff, from pooping, flatulating, skimming around the Guggenheim Art Museum to - well, you name it - anything for laughs.
There's nothing really obnoxious about this comedy; it's tailor-made for the little tots, and it succeeds well as such. Director Mark Waters keeps the Anders, Morris & Stern script going at the right pace, concluding down home happily in 95-minutes - just right for this sort of flick. (Grade: C+)