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Zookeeper

A movie directed by Frank Coraci

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Talking Animals Are No Laughing Matter

  • Jul 9, 2011
Rating:
+2
Star Rating:


Is this supposed to be a joke? Zookeeper is so unbelievably stupid that it may not have been intended as a serious movie, but rather as a prank concocted by the studio heads. Paying audiences are not the only victims, here; let us not forget the likes of Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Sylvester Stallone, Cher, and Nick Nolte, all of whom I respect as actors. They too are getting the short end of the stick. Now that the powers that be at Columbia Pictures and MGM have had a good laugh, they owe it to them – and to us – to distribute a film that shows something of an effort being made, story wise. Effort is clearly seen in other areas, most notably in animal training and puppet effects, but so what? If I can’t be made to care about the plot, I certainly can’t be made to care about its technical achievements.
 
Not since Furry Vengeance have filmmakers labored so mightily on so little. Here is a family comedy in which the laughs come not from the jokes, which are strained beyond the point of exhaustion, but from the underlying premise, which is spectacularly bad. To be clear, these are not the good laughs, the ones that come from precise timing, witty punch lines, and inherently funny scenarios; these are the bad laughs, the once that stem from incredulity. If it’s true that camp can only be found and not made, then you bottom feeders of midnight cult cinema might want to keep an eye on this one. I suspect it will be quite some time before you will find a more unintentionally hilarious movie to make fun.

                                            
                                             
The plot, as it were, involves Griffin Keyes (James), a zookeeper at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo. It’s precisely because of his job that his love life hasn’t exactly panned out; five years before the events of this movie, his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), flatly rejected his marriage proposal. Although he’s now lonely and socially inept, he’s really good with animals. When his brother (Nat Fixon) gets married, this, somehow or another, brings Stephanie back into the picture. She’s now dating an overly competitive athlete named Gale (Joe Rogan), but it seems she still has feelings for Griffin. If only he would quit his zookeeping job and become a car salesman, like his brother; maybe then she could find it in her heart to give him a second chance. Griffin is determined to win her back, but unfortunately, he doesn’t know the first thing about getting her attention.
 
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. As it turns out, the animals in the zoo can talk. They have, in fact, always possessed the ability to talk. They have all apparently taken a code to keep silent in the presence of humans, since they wouldn’t be able to handle it. Knowing how desperate Griffin is, they decide to break their silence and give him dating advice. According to Joe the Lion (voiced by Stallone), he must be an alpha male, someone who will not stand down in a conflict. Joe’s mate, Janet the Lioness (voiced by Cher), takes a different approach; Griffin must get Stephanie’s attention by being in the company of another female. Here enters Kate (Dawson), a vet who has been offered a zoo job in Nairobi. She and Griffin get along splendidly, but being the kind of movie this is, Griffin is required to not realize he’s after the wrong girl until the end of the movie.

                                           
                                             
Other animals, including a giraffe (voiced by Maya Rudolph), an elephant (voiced by Judd Apatow), and a frog (voiced by Don Rickles), all put in their two cents. A Capuchin monkey (voiced by Adam Sandler) so helpfully suggests that Griffin throw poop at Stephanie. The scary thing is not so much that the animals can talk, or even that they give Griffin advice. The real scary thing is that he sometimes takes it. Consider a conversation he has with two grizzly bears (voiced by Faizon Love and Jon Favreau), who tell him to strut around with his stomach pushed out and his arms waving high in the air, all while emitting a guttural growl. He does this just as a group of children pass by the bear exhibit. That he did it at all is nothing short of amazing. And then there’s a wolf’s suggestion that he mark his territory, which is clearly demonstrated; in the next scene, Griffin is at his brother’s party peeing on a potted plant in full view of the guests.
 
Intertwined with this is a ridiculous subplot involving a gorilla named Bernie (voiced by Nolte), who has been placed in a cement pit following an incident with a heartless loser (Donnie Wahlburg). Experience has taught Bernie to distrust humans – they lie and will always let you down. This had the potential to be compelling, but alas, it was ruined when Griffin decided to sneak Bernie out of the zoo and drive him to a TGI Friday’s. Their cover: Bernie will don a T-shirt and pass himself off as a man who just left a costume party. It apparently works. How else could Bernie end up on the dance floor with a real live woman? And with that, I think I’ve given you enough of an idea of just how monumentally Zookeeper fails. If this is what passes for family entertainment nowadays, God help us all.

                                               

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July 10, 2011
This one I'll have to save as a rental. I like Kevin James, but sometimes, his gags and punchlines feel redundant. Nice review as always.
July 14, 2011
What floors me is that Roger Ebert awarded this three out of four stars. For the life of me, I don't know why. What did he see in it that I didn't?
July 14, 2011
sometimes, even reviewers, like filmmakers, and writers, lose their touch after awhile. With all due respect to Ebert, I never thought he was the best movie reviewer but he certainly is still one of the better known ones.
 
July 09, 2011
Poor Kevin James; how does he manage to get cast in such a dumb movie?
July 14, 2011
The promise of a paycheck, most likely. Still, he should have tried for something better.
 
July 09, 2011
There is enough farce here to make the overall presentation entertaining albeit mindless in spots.
July 14, 2011
Although I don't agree, I do appreciate the comment.
 
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More Zookeeper reviews
review by . February 12, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
GREAT MOVIE FOR KIDS AND GREAT BLU-RAY
            ZOOKEEPER      It is no secret that I am a Kevin James fan and I guarantee that I will enjoy any thing that the man is in. I LOVED his show "The King of Queens" and have loved all of his films including his first Happy Madison film "Paul Blart: Mall Cop". Why did I love it you may ask, well because of the cast but also because my little cuz loved it. When you go to see these family films with the kids you …
Quick Tip by . February 12, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
I do recommend this flick because it is good, it may not be the best film ever depending your taste but it is good. Remember the target audience and go in with that mindset and you will like it. Take the kids as well because they will love it. The Blu-Ray is full of great special features.
review by . July 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Zookeeper' 'Two Jews On Film' Deem This Unfunny Comedy Not Bagel Worthy (Video)
      By Joan Alperin Schwartz      When five different people get screenwriting credit for one film, you know something went terribly wrong.   And that's exactly what happened with the film 'Zookeeper', directed by Frank Coraci.  Five screenwriters couldn't make this film work.      When the film opens, we see Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) and his girlfriend (Stephanie), played by drop dead gorgeous, Leslie …
Quick Tip by . December 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This was honestly one of the stupidest movies i saw in 2011 and thats saying something. Its like a bad mash up of Paul Blart, Night at the Museum, and Madagascar. The plot has big holes in it, and on top of being dumb didnt make much sense, and the one thing that really really made me dislike the whole film was the voices that they used for the animals...outright irritating!
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Director: Frank Coraci
Genre: Comedy, Family, Romance
Release Date: 8 July 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Nick Bakay, Rock Reuben
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