You live in an apartment in New York City and work within sight of the Empire State building. Your life is hectic but predictable.
Imagine getting a very unusual gift (turns out, later, to be from your father). It is a live gentoo penguin. Wanting to send it back, you ask for a return crate. You get a new crate all right--filled with five new penguins.
What a mess your apartment soon becomes! You get snipped at and dumped on by the penguins. You give them names, such as Nimrod, Stinky, Captain, etc. They are perpetually playful! The penguins swim in the bathtub and spill water all over. Your children from a terminated marriage come to visit, and, having long been alienated from you, absolutely fall in love with the penguins.
A nosy neighbor wonders what the noises are from your apartment and, suspecting that he is on to something, wants to tell the board about it. Worse yet, your new nemesis, a penguin specialist who works in the zoo, keeps spying on you. He has a behaviorist view of animals (making animals little more than machines made of flesh), and is determined to take your penguins from you. To him, penguins are simply fish-eating machines. He doubts if a non-specialist can properly care for penguins, and especially ridicules the notion that a loving bond has developed between the penguins and you.
In time, you turn your apartment into a winter wonderland, complete with snow, ice skating, etc. Some of the penguins lay eggs, and you are determined that they hatch. Your colleagues from work stumble upon your transformed apartment, and think that you have totally lost your mind. Your penguins follow you around wherever you go, and this produces its own share of comic events.
Everything comes to a head from the nosy neighbor, the penguin specialist, the kids, Popper's ex-wife, and his work colleagues. Popper is accused of breaking the law by housing penguins. He is fired from his job. He tries to win his ex-wife back. The penguin specialist has all of Popper's penguins. The apartment is normal once again, and the visiting children are heartbroken. And then... I will not spoil the ending by revealing it.
This is a very entertaining and heartwarming movie for the whole family. If you are an animal lover, this little tale is definitely for you.