Who doesn’t love penguins? Hollywood may not be sure how popular Jim Carrey is these days as a regular guy in live action motion pictures, but the world sure loves the little tuxedoed guys. Everyone from Jack Black to Owen Wilson to Ben Stiller (with Greenberg filmmaker Noah Baumbach) has circled the project. But now 20th Century Fox has set Carrey in the film adaptation of everybody’s favorite kids’ book Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and I hear the studio got him cheap. John Davis is producing, Mark Waters (Mean Girls but also The Spiderwick Chronicles) is directing, with Jared Stern writing the latest version of a script by Sean Anders & John Morris.
Carrey should be able to play the part without masking his face, for once. The movie version takes the book into an upscale direction: a high-powered businessman suddenly inherits six penguins. As he gets acquainted with – and increasingly attached to – his winged roommates, Popper’s life quickly unravels: his swanky New York apartment is turned into a snowy winter wonderland, the deal he’s long been working on is derailed, and he almost lands in jail. “But thanks to his new charges, Popper comes to understand the importance of family – human and otherwise,” according to the logline. However, the book, originally published in 1938 and written by Richard & Florence Atwater, tells the story of a modest house painter who receives a penguin in the mail from Admiral Drake’s Antartartica explorations. One penguin turns into 12 Adelie penguins, and the Poppers find the only way to keep everyone fed and a roof over their heads is to turn the penguins into performers.