Disney+ is increasingly becoming a place for rediscovering movies and finding new ones. On that note, one of the more underrated entries in Jim Carrey’s back catalogue, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, is now available on the streaming service.
The film features divorced real estate entrepreneur Tom Popper attempting to attain a promotion by securing the sale of a Central Park restaurant, the area’s sole privately-owned building, only to have his life invaded by a band of penguins left to him by his late father, an explorer who was rarely present during his childhood. Initially attempting to get rid of the unwanted interlopers, he’s forced to keep them when his young son mistakes them for a birthday present, swiftly making up for his frequently forgetting the day in the past. Of course, his attempts to keep his new roommates contained frequently fail, whereupon, to borrow a turn of phrase, chaos reigns.
Released in 2011, Carrey’s performance is a mix of the anarchic rubber-faced antics of his early Hollywood years and the maturity that began to develop in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Although its main appeal is the notion of the actor being frequently outsmarted by a sextet of cute waddling birds and eventually bonding with them, it’s ultimately a story about family and what we do to maintain it. The main theme is of Tom trying to overcome his emotional absence towards his children and reconnect with them to avoid becoming the disappointment his own father was to him, and it’s that emotional core that makes it stand out.
Although Mr. Popper’s Penguins received only mixed reviews and a moderate box office return on its budget, it’s well worth a watch if you fancy something fun, simple and utterly inoffensive. It’s often forgotten amidst Jim Carrey’s memorable run of iconic roles, but hopefully being available on Disney+ will allow more people to discover it.