Mama Mary is the host of the her own blog The Mama Mary Show, a freelance writer, author of Dead Dads Club, a mom to two spunky little girls and an a over-zealous GLEEk.

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Mr. Popper’s Penguins—A Sappy Mom’s Review

Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper's Penguins

I’m a sucker for movies that make me go “awww” (which are kind of like “things that make me go hmmm,” only better), and Mr. Popper’s Penguins was an “aw”-fest from beginning to end. Based loosely on the classic children’s book of the same name, it has all the ingredients for a perfect family film: comedy through the goofy, yet heart-felt Jim Carrey, positive messaging about family ties, and ridiculously cute penguins that will steal your heart from the very first waddle.

Aw little about the film:

Tom Popper, a New York City executive, played with pitch-perfection by Jim Carrey, has put his career before his family for years. His kids feel second best and his ex-wife has moved on to a more touchy-feely type relationship with a guy who says things like, “Greetings,” and probably eats granola while wearing Tevas.

When Popper is greeted at his front door by a crate containing real live penguins, sent to him by his recently-deceased father, his fast-paced, high-profile lifestyle takes a quick flip. The new life is still icy cold, but now for entirely different reasons. He literally has to turn his apartment into an icy tundra, so that the feathery creatures can thrive. Yet, despite the freezing temperatures, warmth and love abound among his feathered friends, which ultimately transcend into his relationships with his kids and his ex-wife.

Jim Carrey as business man Mr. Popper's Penguins

Carrey was a perfect choice for this role (and apparently chosen over six other leading actors who vied for the role). He has an uncanny way of making unlikable characters liked and otherwise unbelievable scenes believable with his trifecta of talents: wit, heart and charm. The role of Tom Popper is no different. He plays this role with a deft balance of slapstick and sincerity. He lets the audience ride shotgun on his journey, and though the “character arc” is a bit obvious, Carrey and the supporting actors make it buyable and relatable.

The talented supporting cast, including Clark Gregg, Ophelia Lovibond and the legendary Angela Lansbury, were all spot on as well. They did not miss a beat in creating this modern-day arctic fairytale, where penguins can waddle their way through Manhattan and play hockey in a high-end, Upper East Side apartment.

Aw Scene Stealers:

And can we talk about the penguins for a minute? Holy cuteness, Batman! I had no idea penguins were so dang adorable. I knew I loved going to the Penguin Encounter at SeaWorld every year, but I had no idea I was going to fall madly in love with them as they waddled, squawked, and flapped their way across the screen. Approximately 30% of the film utilizes computer generated penguins, but as an audience member I could barely tell the difference, except of course when penguins began cascading down the spiraling ramp of the Guggenheim Museum or busting a move to the Vanilla Ice classic, Ice Ice Baby.

Jim Carrey as Mr. Popper

It would take a heartless villain to not fall deeply in love with these penguins. As Carla Gugino, who plays Popper’s ex-wife Amanda, states, “You cannot stand next to them and not smile. They’re just such little forces of joy.” And that joy breaks through the Technicolor and grabs you where your heart is in this film.

Biggest Aw of the Movie:

Though the penguins provided many an aw-aw moment (my version of Oprah’s ah-ha moment), my favorite aw moment of the film was between Jim Carrey and Madeline Carroll, who plays his teenage, angst-ridden daughter, Janie. Towards the end of the film, Carrey takes her shopping for her prom dress. In one priceless moment, Jim’s character has a realization that his little girl, the one “he made,” is growing up. He beams with pride and a certain fatherly love that I knew all too well with my own dad before he passed away. It was reminiscent of the fashion shows I performed for my dad after a girls trip to the mall. Looking back I’m sure he was bored to tears with my faux catwalking, but he never let on. He looked at me with the exact look Jim Carrey captured in that scene. Aw-inducing indeed.


This darling comedy has heart and soul for days. You’ll LOL and aw your way through it. You might even leave there looking at your own life a little differently. And Santa better start stocking up on penguins because kids all across America are going to be crazy in love with penguins after this.

This Sappy Mom gives it 4 out of 5 fist pumps.

Now, CLICK HERE to see my vlog on how I made and ass of myself in front of Jim Carrey, and CLICK HERE to read all the behind-the-scenes dirt on Jim Carrey. More from my interview with the legendary Angela Lansbury and the film’s director & producer early next week.

Oh, and before I waddle on outta here…we have a giveaway! We are giving away a $50 movie theater gift card and a copy of the movie-tie-in edition of the book. Simply leave a comment down below on your favorite Jim Carrey character or quote.


The winner of the gift card and book giveaway is Angela Q.  Congratulations, Angela!

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Comments (43)

  1. Kristen McLane 06/24/2011 at 2:54 pm

    I’ve always liked Jim Carey’s acting in The Truman Show.

  2. Charity S 06/23/2011 at 3:02 pm

    I loved him as the Grinch.

  3. Dee 06/23/2011 at 1:46 pm

    My favorite character is The Grinch, of course.

  4. Laural Out Loud 06/23/2011 at 12:56 pm

    Ace Ventura! My friends quoted that movie for AGES. Now my brain is too mommified to remember any specific quotes, but I can still see Jim Carrey coming out of the bathroom and swinging his hands around to get rid of the smell!

  5. Nota Supermom 06/19/2011 at 3:27 pm

    I liked The Truman Show and Fire Marshall Bill from In Living Color. “Let me tell ya something!”

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  8. Leana 06/15/2011 at 9:19 am

    My all time favorite Jim Carrey movie is Liar! Liar! If I just feel like laughing I will watch that movie. It is hysterical!!!

  9. kelly 06/14/2011 at 12:33 pm

    Hey Mary, Thank you for the heads up about your giveaway! My son is really looking forward to the movie and has been trying to find a copy of the book…not to be found! Jim Carey is funny in everything he does BUT, I think my Fav is Liar, Liar where his mind plays good cop/ bad cop…hilarious!

  10. Diane White 06/14/2011 at 11:36 am

    It doesn’t seem to matter the movie, Jim Carrey always makes us laugh! I am taking my daughter and her friends to Mr. Poppers Penguins for her birthday party. Based on your review, it sounds like it’s going to be a good time!

  11. Maija 06/13/2011 at 10:42 am

    I loved The Truman Show and The Majestic.

  12. Not Just A Mommy! 06/13/2011 at 12:25 am

    I absolutely loved him in ‘Liar Liar’; it reminded me so much of his In Living Color days, he is a genius at physical comedy!

  13. Red Lotus Mama 06/13/2011 at 12:05 am

    Bruce Almighty … hands down! I never get sick of that movie!

  14. Sharla Borrowman 06/12/2011 at 11:45 pm

    We loved him in Bruce Almighty and the Truman show. =)

  15. Ashley 06/12/2011 at 6:02 pm

    “One man’s toxic waste is another man’s potpourri.” -How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

  16. Rebecca Skullerud 06/11/2011 at 6:27 pm

    Hands down my favorite Jim Carrey movie is Ave Ventura Pet Detective – even though I have watched this movie a million times, I still crack up!

  17. Pam Paulsen 06/11/2011 at 6:55 am

    Not a be fan of Jim Carey either but he does know how to pull funny faces and get people to favorite movie of his has to be liar liar. It really showed a more human side of him….”I can’t Lie”……

  18. Joann Woolley 06/10/2011 at 11:43 pm

    Because of your review I will definately be seeing this movie! I don’t think it even was a blip on my radar, even with Jim Carrey starring. For a favorite character, I really liked him in Liar, Liar… but something that sticks with me is the million dollar check he wrote to himself and carried around in his wallet to keep him present to his dream of one day being on the big screen and making people laugh. BTW, I don’t ever read all the way through movie reviews, but Mary, you had me laughing and following along with your cute “aweness” that I had to see what else you’d come up with!

  19. Jen 06/10/2011 at 11:25 pm

    I am awful on movie quotes! I would really love to see this movie, though! It looks like it would be great to take my kids to see!

  20. Marissa 06/10/2011 at 10:52 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your thorough, well written review! I was wondering about this movie, and you’ve covered everything I needed to know and more. I love Jim Carrey as Count Olaf in Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events.

  21. Roseanne Alonso 06/10/2011 at 10:24 pm

    Nothing beets Jim as Ace Ventura!

  22. Jenn D 06/10/2011 at 7:06 pm

    Honestly I can’t stand Jim Carrey in his super goofy “face stretching” movies but I really like him when he takes on more serious roles like Truman

  23. Mark 06/10/2011 at 5:57 pm

    Ace Ventura.


  24. rani 06/10/2011 at 5:33 pm

    Awesome review!!!! Can’t wait to take the girls to see this!!! One of my favorite characters that he played was in Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events. He played this evil, selfish bad guy to the tee!

  25. Angela Allen 06/10/2011 at 4:57 pm

    I really liked Fun with Dick & Jane & the Truman Show.

  26. Megan (Modern Bird Studios) 06/10/2011 at 3:35 pm

    I loved him in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Friggin awesome movies.

  27. Great Sappy Review, mama Mary! I have to agree with Laura Frontiero, in that I loved him in, In Living Color. I remember his character as the baby still attached to his mom via umbilical cord. Gross, yet hilarious at the same time. I was so young too, lol!

  28. Laura 06/10/2011 at 1:18 pm

    I loved him in the Truman Show!

  29. Laura Frontiero 06/10/2011 at 12:22 pm

    I hope jim carrey get a chance to see your Vlog post. I’m sure he didn’t hear you say ‘ass’. he probably thought you said ‘ask’!! I know he has come a long way with his acting skills but my favorite ‘Jim Carrey’ is watching him on reruns of In Living Color as Fire Marshall Bill & Vera de Milo.

  30. Monique Baysinger 06/10/2011 at 11:57 am

    Loved your review – thanks!! My favorite is Ace Ventura – favorite line “did you just refer to me as White Devil?” “it’s how they know you!” OR a close tie is when he looks around the hunting lodge at all the animals mounted on the wall — too funny!!!! Those are some really old reference to his really old movies about Ace Ventura – does that make me really old? 🙂

  31. Melonie 06/10/2011 at 10:45 am

    My favorite might have a little to do with my work because I see this come up on Twitter buzz monitoring all the time and laugh. Ace Ventura “Bumblebee tuna, bumblebee tuna!” and also “Spank you very much!”

  32. Tara 06/10/2011 at 10:31 am

    My favorite is Liar, Liar, too :o)

  33. Stephanie 06/10/2011 at 10:12 am

    Truman Show, first time I realized how talented he really is! I love that movie.

  34. Clyde 06/10/2011 at 9:49 am

    Liar, Liar is my fave… and The Grinch, of course. Quote from the last one: “I think we’re all gonna die…” while riding the sleigh downhill and furiously screaming his head off. Silly I know but I just can’t help it!

  35. cindy barriga 06/10/2011 at 9:41 am

    My favorite Jim Carrey movie is LIAR, LIAR. I can still laugh myself to tears watching this movie! 😀

  36. susan chew 06/10/2011 at 9:22 am

    I loved him as Truman in The Truman Show.

  37. steven epstein 06/10/2011 at 9:19 am

    loved him as Ace Ventura- pet detective. freaking hilarious

  38. Debbie Terry 06/10/2011 at 9:15 am

    I guess this sounds terrible but I liked Liar Liar – where he beats himself up. I try to justify it by calling it an external manifestation of internal angst…but really it was just funny!

  39. Raejean Roberts 06/10/2011 at 8:56 am

    This would be some great family time this summer.

  40. heidi @ wonder woman wannabe 06/10/2011 at 8:46 am

    I loved his character Truman in ‘The Truman Show’!

    Great review, Mary! You’ve got such talent for reviews.

    My 3 yr old has only seen billboards for the movie and he’s INSISTING that he see’s it…”I wanna watch Misto’ Pop-oh!”


  41. Jill K 06/10/2011 at 2:03 am

    This movie sounds a whole lot different than what I was expecting after seeing previews. Now I really want to see it!

    I have been a fan of Jim Carrey ever since the In Living Color days. My favorite character was Fireman..(I can’t remember the name! I’m getting old.) Bill? I used to tuck my lips in at school and yell “let me tell you somethin!”

    I had very few friends then.

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