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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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Fidelis of Sigmaringen: If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint's life. 
<p>Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Fidelis soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor. </p><p>As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers. </p><p>He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions. </p><p>He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed. </p><p>He was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which was established in 1622, recognized him as its first martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog Obedience means total surrender and wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. All the difficulties that come in our work are the result of disobedience.

 
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