Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Rated 3.0

A Manhattan real-estate wheeler-dealer (Jim Carrey) inherits half a dozen penguins from his late father just as he’s trying to finalize a deal with an eccentric old lady (Angela Lansbury) and mend fences with his ex-wife (Carla Gugino) and estranged kids (Maxwell Perry Cotton, Madeline Carroll). Precious little of Richard and Florence Atwater’s 1938 kid-lit classic survives in the script by Sean Anders, John Morris and Jared Stern, but under Mark Waters’ cheerful direction the movie provides a cozy framework for Carrey’s unique brand of slapstick sincerity. The story bears a far-from-coincidental resemblance to Carrey’s 1997 Liar Liar, with penguins instead of enforced honesty to catalyze the action. There are far worse movies to treat the kids to; it may even prompt them to give the book a chance.