Mr. Popper's Penguins is a 2011 American comedy family film directed by Mark Waters, and starring Jim Carrey. It was loosely based on the children's book of the same name. The film was originally slated for a release on August 12, 2011, but was moved up to June 17, 2011.
Thomas "Tom" Popper (Jim Carrey) is a divorced real estate entrepreneur whose father traveled to many far places around the world during his childhood. He uses methods of experiencing adventures to get CEOs of businesses into selling their buildings to Popper's real estate company. When he gets home to his apartment after an unsuccessful attempt to convince his children to stay a weekend with him, he learns that his father has passed away during an adventure to Antarctica. Popper is called to his lawyer who tells him his father's last will asks for his son to be given a souvenir from his last adventure. The next week a crate containing a gentoo penguin (Captain) shows up at his doorstep. After the penguin annoys him Mr. Popper tries to send the penguin back to the crew of Captain Popper. Eventually, due to a miscommunication with a crewmember of Captain Popper on the telephone, more penguins arrive (Bitey, Stinky, Lovey, Nimrod, and Loudy), bringing the total to six. Popper initially intends to donate the penguins to a pest control of some sort, but changes his mind when his children, Janie Popper and Billy Popper (Madeline Carroll and Maxwell Perry Cotton), think that the penguins are Billy's birthday present. That night Mr. Popper meets with New York Zookeeper Nat Jones (Clark Gregg), who asks Mr. Popper for the penguins, having been tipped off by Popper's assistant for a pest problem. Popper tries to stall him by asking him to collect the penguins another time. Jones agrees but not before warning that the conditions in Popper's apartment are not good enough to raise penguins. Popper is forced to pay the board of his apartment to keep the penguins with him in his apartment home and lie to his arrogant neighbor Kent about there being no animals in his home.
At the same time, Popper is given the task of buying Tavern on the Green, an old restaurant where he used to eat with his father as a child, with the intent of tearing it down and building a new development in its place. However, its elderly owner, Selma Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury), will only sell it to someone who she deems a person of true value. Popper has two unsuccessful meetings with her, and explaining his business methods she refuses to sell it to him, leaving Popper to be rushed by his bosses to make sure the company gets the tavern. Having the penguins around helps Popper to become closer to his children. He also begins dating their mother, Amanda Popper (Carla Gugino), again, and for the first time his children are happy to stay nights with him. The penguins eventually lay three eggs. Two of the eggs hatch and one doesn’t. Popper becomes so obsessed with seeing the last egg hatch, losing his job in the process when he angers his bosses for not focusing on the tavern for them.
Jones sneaks in the apartment one night when becoming impatient with Popper and after an argument with Popper, warns him in frustration that penguins can only survive in the cold or zoo and vows to get the penguins sometime; as a result Popper puts snow in his apartment, and lowers his temperature for the penguins.
After a few days of waiting for the egg, upon realizing from Jones that the egg can’t be hatched, Popper feels he is not capable of raising the penguins and reluctantly donates them to Jones for the New York zoo. He then is re-hired by his bosses, and refocuses his attention on purchasing the Tavern on the Green. His children and ex-wife, however, are disappointed in his decision, seeing it as wrong. The next day his ex-wife prepares to go to Africa for three weeks with her boyfriend Rick who takes an interest in Popper, and leave the kids in his care. When preparing for the next press conference to sell the tavern, Popper drops his keys and finds a lost letter from his father, which had been delivered with the first penguin, Captain.
In it, his father tells him to hold his children close and love them, just as this penguin would love him. Having a change of heart, Popper asks his children and ex-wife to help him get the penguins back from the zoo before the press conference at the tavern and before his ex-wife goes to Africa.
Popper and his family interrogate Jones about the penguins, but Jones claims that the penguins were separated and traded to other zoos as planned. However, immediately after that Popper finds that Jones is lying about them having done it already, with help from the shouting penguin named Loudy. He frees the penguins from a cooler in the office and locks Jones inside when he attempts to recapture the penguins by holding up a raw fish for them. When preparing to escape, Popper and his family notice that Jones has managed to escape and security guards are looking everywhere for them. While taking a shortcut through a gift shop, Captain is separated from the group when he gets tangled in a kite, chased by two guards, escapes onto the roof. Popper asks his assistant Pippy to create a distraction so that Popper and his family can escape. Captain falls off the roof of the gift shop, and with the help of the kite, finally gets her chance to fly. Popper and his family manage to escape with the penguins and flee to the tavern with Jones in pursuit on a golf-cart.
Upon seeing how Popper had reunited his family and rescued the penguins, Van Gundy agrees to sell him the restaurant saying that her desire to know what he is worth, was a test to make sure the boy (Popper) sitting with his father at her restaurant years ago, wasn't lost. But rather than tear it and the park down as once planned, Popper orders that the restaurant be renovated and reopened. Immediately after Van Gundy makes the deal with Popper, Jones arrives with the police to arrest Popper for theft of the penguins. After explaining the story in front of the crowd and police, the officers agree to spare Popper from prison if they determine by test who the penguins love. Jones holds up a sardine for the penguins thinking they love fish more than Popper, but the penguins go to Popper much to Jones's dismay. The crowd applauds for Popper and when Jones grows hysterical about attempts to getting Popper arrested for the zoo break in, the touched police officers arrest Jones instead. While he is legally in the right, Van Gundy is able to protect Mr. Popper from arrest due to her friendship with New York's Mayor thus leaving Popper back in custody of the penguins.
At the end of the film, Popper and his family travel to Antarctica with the penguins, allowing them to live with their own kind and promising to visit on occasions. Popper's first penguin, Captain, is revealed to have laid another egg. Popper tells his children that they'll have to come back and visit when the baby, who he named Bald Eagle (after the code name he used for his father), is born. He then concludes by saying "Thanks Captain. You're the coolest gift I have ever gotten."
- Jim Carrey as Thomas "Tom" Popper, Jr.
- Henry Keleman as Young Tom Popper, Jr.
- Dylan Clark Marshall as Younger Tom Popper, Jr.
- Carla Gugino as Amanda Popper
- Madeline Carroll as Janie Popper
- Maxwell Perry Cotton as Billy "Bill" Popper
- Angela Lansbury as Selma Van Gundy
- Lin-Manuel Miranda as Daryl
- Philip Baker Hall as Mr. Franklin
- Dominic Chianese as Mr. Reader
- Clark Gregg as Nat Jones
- Ophelia Lovibond as Pippi
- Jeffrey Tambor as Mr. Gremmins
- David Krumholtz as Kent
- James Tupper as Rick
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