Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a book that makes memories. I remember an idyllic summer (when we still lived in the country and the hills), and Sam, Ben and I used to crawl up on top of the garden shed, hide in the trees, and read Mr. Popper’s Penguins out loud to each other. I remember even earlier, listening to Mom read while we ate lunch, or lying on the couch and reading it to myself. There is really no idea quite as delightful and hilarious as a man named Mr. Popper, and his twelve pet penguins.
I was not exactly thrilled when someone told me that they were making a movie of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. I might have even groaned at the likely thought that Hollywood would completely and utterly botch it. I must be prophetic, because that’s exactly what they did.
It’s a hard job to find any sort of resemblance between the movie and the book. The title is the same. The man’s name is the same. It has penguins in it. That’s pretty much it.
Perhaps the biggest difference is the time period. They should have called the movie Mr. Popper in the 21st Century, because that’s apparently what it is. Moving the story from the 1930s to the 21st century is a huge leap, and that’s where I think the story completely lost its original flavor.
The Mr. Popper in the movie has nothing in common with the real Mr. Popper. Movie Mr. Popper is a divorced businessman who lives in New York. He has a high-end apartment with stark, modern furnishings, and he only sees his children on the weekends. Real Mr. Popper, on the other hand, lives in a quiet little town called Stillwater, and makes his living painting houses. He has a perfectly intact marriage, and he goes home to a real and cozy little house, and sees his children every evening.
Real Mr. Popper is an absent-minded daydreamer. Movie Mr. Popper is a snappy businessman who tries to be witty. Real Mr. Popper has a walrus-mustache. Movie Mr. Popper has Jim Carey’s horrible hair.
Movie Janie was terrible. Real Janie was (at the most) nine or ten. She wore cute little dresses and pigtails, and she was the sort of little girl who roller-skated and jumped rope. Movie Janie was in junior-high. She wouldn’t quit texting, she hated her dad, and her face was always splotchy and swollen because she was crying about boys.
Have you seen any similarities yet? Me neither.
If I was judging the movie by itself, I would probably say that it’s okay. It’s kind of stereotypical, but some parts of it are a little bit funny. I liked the real penguins. :) Jason thought that it was absolutely hilarious, so I guess it’s a good kid’s movie.
My advice is this. If you watch the movie, the best thing to do is forget the fact that it is at all connected with the book. (Which is actually easy.) Haha. By itself, it’s an okay family movie; but Real Mr. Popper’s fans will probably hate it.