I don’t know if there was ever truly a golden era of live action children’s movies. Many might say it was the 1980s (The Karate Kid, The Goonies, Space Camp and all other nostalgia trips), but the 1960s and 1970s were all right too thanks to Disney and The Muppets.  But now they’re cloying, sarcastic, manic, and disposable.  (Remember, I’m talking about live action films here, not animation.  No yelling about Pixar and DreamWorks in the space below.)

For awhile it seemed as though  The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Where the Wild Things Are would change that trend and we would start getting children films with substance again. The trend leaned that way, as Noah Baumbach was briefly attached to direct Mr. Popper’s Penguins — a Depression-era story that’s all about unfulfilled dreams, loneliness, poverty, and escapism — and could have turned it into something with heart and meaning.

But then some studio suit thought “Why would we talk about serious stuff in a kid’s movie? Where’s the penguin toy sales in that?  Penguins are zany!  There could be poop jokes!”  Baumbach was out.  Jim Carrey, Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Jim Carrey began circling.

Now according to The Hollywood Reporter, Carrey is officially Mr. Popper for director Mark Davis, and the plot has been changed to reflect its increasingly unfunny star. Now, instead of a sad house painter who winds up with a pack of penguins, Mr. Popper is a New York businessman whose life is destroyed by them.  Of course, he’ll learn the power of love, but not before we endure 80 minutes of stinky fish jokes and Carrey screaming and making trademark rubber faces.  It starts shooting in October, and an announcement that it will be in 3D can’t be far behind.