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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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John of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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