Carrey p-p-picks up a penguin

AS the popularity of Happy Feet can attest, who doesn’t love a penguin – chocolate or otherwise?

The legacy continues with Mr Popper’s Penguins, a fluffy family film that teaches a grieving estate agent how to form relationships again.

Recently divorced Mr Popper (Jim Carrey) inherits a huddle of flappy friends from his late adventurer father and finds his life being turned upside down.

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Initially, he’s less than impressed with their smelly, noisy invasion into his soulless bachelor pad – after all, it cuts into the precious time he spends developing his property portfolio.

But the ice-cold heart of this broken family man soon begins to melt when the cutsey creatures refuse to leave him alone.

Having to care for his newest recruits loosens Popper up and causes him to re-evaluate his relationships with the gorgeous wife and adorable children he abandoned.

All together now: “Aww.”

Impressively, Carrey just about avoids being upstaged by his feathered cast members, who are in fact real-life Gentoo penguins.

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Sure there’s a few CGI-assisted moments but for the most part, Carrey really is waddling around the refrigerated set, presumably stinking of fish, with six Antarctic natives.

Though The Mask actor is a stalwart on the comedy circuit, his mute, yet surprisingly expressive, avian pals steal the show.

Flying right over the heads of its underage audience is the notion orchestrated by director Mark Waters that we should see the tuxedoed birds as silent-movie actors.

They gaze at Charlie Chaplin movies on TV then imitate his acrobatic stunts and slapstick as they bounce around Mr Popper’s lavish Park Avenue apartment.

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Waters keeps things moving briskly through the slumps in the script by reverting to the safety of amusing penguin antics wherever possible.

The concept of the film itself is understandably fantastical as it creates a New York where penguins can apparently romp around without anyone thinking it’s in any way odd.

Well, apart from the big-wigs at the Guggenheim museum.

On balance, parents should be warned that Christmas lists this year could be begging for a pet penguin.