Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Book VS. The Film.

Please select a story which has been made into a movie and research into its production. Investigate to see if you can find out whose idea it was to create the movie, what ideas guided the production, and so on. Be sure that you cite this information.

As a young child, I had heard and loved the story of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. I can still recall the story written by Richard and Florence Atwater about a house painter and his very entertaining penguins. The book was written in 1938 and was awarded with the Newbery Award. The plot expressed and contained a very unique story about “the adventures of a housepainter and his brood of high-stepping penguins” (Unknown, 2011).  The classic piece became very popular over the years for young elementary students. In 2011 the story was taken and made into a film. While both the book and film have similar concepts, and ideas, and characters when the story was recreated for film many aspects of the story were changed. 

In 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment released their modernized film of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. This new release featured drastically changed the unique family story. From character relationships, values, careers and even the setting of the story has a drastic contrast as the book is compared to the film.

This classic tale took quite a twist when it hit the big screen. The main character is portrayed quit differently in the two different mediums. “The Mr. Popper of the movie is not the carefree, slightly eccentric Mr. Popper of the book” (Wendy, 2011). Looking at the main character, Jim Carey, it is fairly simple to have a good idea of how this character is portrayed in the film. Carey has earned himself quite a reputation for his silly faces, and comical combinations. Considering other movies like, Ace Ventura, Liar, Liar, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Yes Man, Bruce Almighty, Me, Myself & Irene and even Batman Forever have all pushed Carey forward with unique yet similar characters that have made Carey into what he is today. Despite Carey’s extreme success in his film career, knowing how his characters are always over-the-top which in turn puts a different spin on this classic tale. We can see how the film chose to rely on the personality of the actor and their entertaining qualities, rather than the quirky characteristics. The book was driven from its entertaining story and well developed characters. 

Looking into the film story we see how the story has been modernized to out current culture. The classic tale sets the story in a fictional small town where the Popper family all live together. The film has a drastically different setting as it is places the story in New York City, and the Poppers have a typical divorced American family. In addition to this detail, the book puts Mr. Popper in a humble job as a house painter. When Hollywood got a hold of the storyline they made some major adjustments to Mr. Popper’s life, as in their version he is a very successful businessman who “has little time for family” (Wendy, 2011).

Another major change in the storyline is the origin of the penguins. The classic tale paints the picture of Mr. Popper’s sense of adventure and how he longs to explore the south pole.  Explorer “Admiral Drake” sends Mr. Popper penguins as a gift (Unknown, 2011). The new film version ties in some issues with Mr. Poppers father that he is carrying over from his childhood. He then acquires these penguins as a gift from his father.  

Overall both the book and the movie are fun and amusing. But if the viewer is planning on the film following the classic story written in text, they will instead find “a very loose interpretation of the book” (Wendy, 2011).  When it comes to a better message to children and their families, it is clear that the classic story shows more character and better values than the new fling. Adapting a classic story to fit better with our modern culture might make it more believable, and easier to related to, but at the same time can pull away many key elements that made the story a classic in the first place.

Works Cited:
Wendy. "Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Book and Movie Review – Caribousmom." Caribousmom. Web. 09 Dec. 2011. .

Unknown, "Mr. Popper's Penguins | Scholastic.com." Scholastic | Children's Books and Book Club | Scholastic.com. Web. 09 Dec. 2011. .