Mr Poppers Penguins

image for Mr Poppers Penguins

Short takes

Lacks interest under 5, OK for children over 5.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Mr Poppers Penguins
  • a review of Mr Poppers Penguins completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 September 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Lacks interest for this age group
Children 5 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Mr Poppers Penguins
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length: 90 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Funny man Jim Carey plays the successful New York commercial realtor Tom Popper.  Whilst incredibly succesful in his business, Mr Popper struggles to maintain a meaningful relationship with his two childen, Janie (Madeline Carroll) and Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton).  Tom also had an estranged relationship with his own father who chose to sail around the world rather than spend time with him as a child. 

Tom’s life changes dramatically when his father dies and leaves him 6 rare penguins.  Tom is determined to give the penguins away to the New York zoo. However when he notices that the penguins bring him closer to his children and his ex-wife, Amanda (Carla Gugino), he decides to keep them for a while.  Slapstick antics take over as the cute penguins wiggle their way into Tom’s life and heart.  Pretty soon Tom has developed a genuine caring relationship with the creatures, his relationship with his two children has begun to mend and the potential of love re-blossoming with Amanda is becoming a firm reality. 

Tom’s work colleagues, however, decide that Tom is losing his mind and he is threatened with dismissal unless he convinces the difficult Mrs Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury) to sell one of the most sought after properties in New York, the Tavern on the Green.  Tom begins to unravel as the competing demands of work, parenting and caring for six rare penguins take their toll.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Divorce, death of a parent

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Mr Popper and family take the penguins back from the zoo and the zookeeper chases them.  Mr Popper ties the zookeeper’s hands and then makes him hit himself in the face a number of times.  The zookeeper is unhurt and the scene is depicted in a humorous manner.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned scene, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • When the penguins initially arrive at Mr Popper’s home he is angry about their intrusion.  He is at times verbally negative towards the penguins although not cruel.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Throughout the movie there is a secondary storyline involving Amanda and Tom who are the divorced parents of Janie and Billy.  The end of the movie is unrealistic as Amanda and Tom reunite in a simplistic way.  Some children from separated families (particularly those in the 5-10 year age group) may be confused or upset because they too want their parents to reunite.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing of concern

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Apple
  • Yahoo
  • Giants
  • Trump

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • a reference to “viagra-tality” in relation to a large building being built

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Alcohol is served and drunk by adults at a function. 

Coarse language

There is some coarse language and toilet humour in this movie that children may imitate. Examples include:

  • oh my god
  • freakin’

In a nutshell

Mr Popper’s Penguins is a feel good family comedy about the journey of a man as he discovers the value and importance of family.

  • The main messages from this movie are
  • the importance of family loyalty and commitment
  • there is more to life than money and success

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • forgiveness
  • standing up for the things you believe in

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss divorce and its impact on families.