Dr. Dre once said that he is “still not loving police.” Well, I’m still not loving the idea of a Mr. Popper’s Penguins movie. On a seemingly unrelated note, the fourth season of Mad Men starts this weekend. I think there’s something here…
Let me begin by admitting that my attitude towards children’s books being turned into movies is best described as “hypocritical curmudgeon.” I’m one of those people who usually thinks kids books are best left as kids books: The live action How The Grinch Stole Christmas movie left me teary-eyed in anger and I can’t even talk about the Where The Wild Things Are movie without going on an extended enraged tirade. Yet, I think Hawley Pratt’s 1971 animated The Cat in the Hat is brilliant while most find it creepy and weird (Daws Butler as Mr. Krinklebein is spot on and Geisel and Chuck Jones produced it! How can you not be into that!?). But, as usual, I digress.
Not surprisingly, I am wholeheartedly against the Mr. Popper’s Penguins movie. Or, to be more precise, the 2012 Mr. Popper’s Penguins movie (who knew there was one in 1987?) While I realize that much cinematic hi-jinx can ensue when you put penguins in a basement, I just can’t stand to see one of my all-time favourite books follow in the footsteps of the likes of Mike Myers and The Cat in the Hat. Plus, The Horn Book said that the book “is more fun than twenty-five movies.” How can you beat that?
But I’m a realist. I know that Hollywood will not heed my plaintive whimpers. I realize that I need to change my approach. Instead of whining about it, I need to take action. This movie is going to get made, and if it’s going to get made, there is only one man I trust with the sacred role:
Yes, I think Hammy would make the perfect Pops. And like any good English 100 student, I have already anticipated your objections and am ready to convince you.
He’s too put together. Mr. Popper is sort of delightfully rumpled and painterly in the book.
But Hammy can look delightfully rumpled/scruffy too! Look!
Jon Hamm isn’t kid friendly. Mom friendly, yes. But not kid friendly.
Oh, really? Just look at this face!
Doesn’t that just scream kid-friendly? What’s that? You think he looks a bit creepy here? Well, that’s perfect! Mr. Popper has just a touch of creepy/zany about him (he does have an obsession with reading about cold climates and keeps penguins in his basement).
Aren’t you biased? Isn’t Jon Hamm second on the list of famous people you want to marry (after JFK Jr. and before Paul Newman in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof)?
You got me there.
Jon Hamm isn’t funny.
But he is funny! He really is! Just listen to him tell the story of how Regis Philbin stalks him! (at the 1:00 mark)
There are currently three other actors in serious consideration for the role: Jim Carrey, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson (Ben Stiller used to be, but now he’s apparently out). Boo-urns to all these guys.
The Press Association made a very astute comment, saying that, depending on the actor/director combo, the movie could either be ” a soul-searching metaphor movie or a kid-friendly comedy packed with animal jokes.” If Carrey or Black do the role, it will turn into one of those overly-raucous, way-too-loud blockbusters where humour is achieved via penguins peeing on the carpet. If Owen Wilson does it, things could get a bit too introspective and weird. And if Ben Stiller does it, it will just be Night at the Museum with some penguin trainers tacked onto the credits. Hamm could bring something inbetween, methinks, with a health dose of old-fashioned kitsch and plenty of pomade.
In my final plea, I have created this highly-detailed, realistic simulation for your consideration:
So, I hope you will consider supporting me in the cause: Jon Hamm for Mr. Popper – 2012.