If you live in America, you probably didn't see 'Mr. Popper's Penguins.' Jim Carrey's tepidly-reviewed summer comedy earned just $67 million in theaters here, well below average for the veteran film funnyman. Yet, as the Los Angeles Times notes, it's earned more than $100 million overseas, doing especially well in Britain and Belgium, and it's far from being played out.

As much of a relief as it is to know that Jim Carrey is still bankable enough somewhere that he can continue receiving big paydays and making creepy video love letters to 22-year-old starlets, you still have to wonder: why are foreign audiences flocking to a homegrown Hollywood movie that domestic audiences rejected?

And that's not the only example. Lots of recent movies that underestimated the lowest-common-denominator taste of the American public have been huge hits overseas. Even 3D movies, which U.S. viewers seem to be rejecting as not worth the extra price, do well throughout the rest of the world.

American audiences used to be considered philistines, while moviegoers in Europe, Japan and elsewhere used to be considered sophisticates. How did we come to switch places? How is it possible that we have better taste in movies than foreign audiences do?