This is good news for kids, not such good news for Jim Carrey fans looking for the elastic funnyman to stretch out and strut his silliness.
It's not that the movie is bad, although it is pure formula. It's that Carrey can do so much better.
His role here could be played by anyone from Paul Rudd to Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it plain squanders Carrey's gifts. The few times he does let the genie out of the bottle only point out how pedestrian the rest of the film is.
Carrey plays Mr. Popper, a slick real estate broker in New York City. He has an ex-wife (Carla Gugino), a young son (Maxwell Perry Cotton) and teen daughter (Madeline Carroll) and a fancy apartment.
He also has an assistant named Pippi (Ophelia Lovibond) who fills her sentences with words beginning in P. She's probably the prime human purveyor of laughter in the preposterous plot.
One day, Mr. Popper receives a crate containing a penguin, his inheritance from a near-absent father. Eventually more penguins arrive.
And that's pretty much the movie: Penguins in a fancy New York City apartment. Imagine the antics. How cute when they line up to waddle down the street. What chaos they cause when they crash a high society party.
Oh, yes, and penguins poop. Hilarious.
OK, maybe not hilarious, but funny enough for a 5-year-old. Side stories of familial reconciliation and career adjustment are irrelevant here, the true aim being to have penguins do kooky things.
There's nothing wrong with that. But why is Jim Carrey standing around watching penguins be funny? Why isn't he in a movie where Jim Carrey is funny?