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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Mr. Popper's Penguins

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Jim Carrey stars in a scene from the movie "Mr. Popper's Penguins."
Have you ever wondered, in your idle moments, what it might be like to keep six pet penguins in a swanky New York City apartment? Well, of course you have.

Thankfully, the long-overdue answer to that burning question is provided by the routine, but generally kid-friendly comedy "Mr. Popper's Penguins" (Fox).

The birds in question arrive on the high-rise doorstep of work-obsessed Manhattan real estate developer Tom Popper (Jim Carrey) by way of a bequest from his recently deceased father, a world traveler and arctic explorer.

As the opening scenes have shown us, Popper senior was not tops as a pop, and his neglectful ways have carried forward to the next generation resulting in the breakup of Tom's marriage to ex-wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) and frayed ties to teen daughter Janie (Madeline Carroll) and young son Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton).

Initially, Tom regards his unasked-for new companions as nothing but a nuisance—one of the funnier sequences concerns his vain efforts to identify some part of the Gotham bureaucracy willing to take them off his hands—and their antics threaten a vital deal he has going to purchase the Central Park landmark Tavern on the Green from its matriarchal owner Mrs. Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury).

But, this being Hollywood, Tom eventually bonds with the unruly creatures and they foster a change in his outlook. (Another enjoyable moment: The as-yet-unreformed Tom wakes up after a weekend of boredom away from the office to declare: "Monday, thank God!")

Though gooey with guano, director Mark Waters' loose adaptation of Richard and Florence Atwater's Newbery award-winning 1939 children's classic is otherwise unproblematic. And its hopeful theme of marital reconciliation between Tom and Amanda—a potential reunion egged on, of course, by their youngsters—will gratify viewers committed to scriptural values.

A stray, thoroughly out-of-place mention of Viagra, which may represent a misguided attempt to keep parents amused, is of course less welcome. But, that fleeting element in Sean Anders, John Morris and Jared Stern's script aside, "Mr. Popper's Penguins" registers as a mostly pleasant distraction for undemanding tots.

The film contains several scatological sight gags, a single adult reference and at least one mild oath. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Gregory the Great: Coming events cast their shadows before: Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome. 
<p>Ordained a priest, he became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome. </p><p>He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed. </p><p>Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king. </p><p>An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great." </p><p>His book, <i>Pastoral Care</i>, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine (August 28), Ambrose (December 7) and Jerome (September 30)as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Loving trust and total surrender made Our Lady say yes to the message of the angel, and cheerfulness made her run in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. So much in our lives, too, is saying yes to Jesus, and running haste to serve him in the poorest of the poor.  –Mother Theresa

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