Griffin (Kevin James) is a dedicated, loyal, friendly zookeeper. Unfortunately for Griffin, zookeeping isn’t exactly selling exotic cars or counterfeiting, so it’s not a terribly lucrative employment. Still, there’s something to be said for loving your work, and Griffin loves his work and all the animals. Unfortunately, Griffin also loves Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), who is way out of his league due to being a model (or something like that).
Well, Griffin feels like his best option is to leave the zoo to Kate (Rosario Dawson) and the other zookeepers and partner up with his brother and sell the aforementioned exotic cars. However, the animals aren’t about to allow that, and the best solution they have is to break their code of silence, actually speak to a human, and teach Griffin how to be a macho, alpha male to win over Stephanie’s heart. Of course, in the process, they’ll manage to keep their best zookeeper at work, but that’s a side benefit.
If you can’t see where this is going, you’ve obviously just crawled out from under a rock or emerged from a cave, so welcome to the world!
Within five minutes of sitting down, I knew exactly how Zookeeper would play out, and it followed the routine exactly. Man thinks he wants girl, ignores perfect match. Man changes himself to get girl, after using perfect match as jealousy bait. Man hates himself, then realizes that he should’ve just dated perfect match, rather than have wasted his time with girl. Man gets perfect match, who loves him for himself. The end.
Zookeeper makes Cars 2 look like Up, and that’s definitely not the case.
I guess that’s to be expected when you’ve got a screenplay written by five different people (Nick Bakay, Rock Reuben, Kevin James, Jay Scherick, and David Ronn). Too many cooks ruin the broth, as the expression says, and this is a pretty laugh-free broth.
Even as a kid’s movie goes, and this is definitely aimed at children, it doesn’t work. Sure, the kids would laugh, but the long stretches of exposition, where Kevin James tries to woo the lovely Leslie Bibb? Kids are going to be bored stiff (and so will adults, for that matter).
To be honest, I feel bad for everyone involved in this film. When you talk about an all-star cast, this is what you’re talking about. From live-action turns by It-boy, Ken Jeong, and newly minted box office golden boy, Kevin James, to voice appearances by Sylvester Stallone, Cher, Nick Nolte, Adam Sandler, Maya Rudolph, and Don Rickles, this movie has a ton of people who have done significantly better work than this. The only one to do anything even remotely close to make me laugh is Jeong as snake handler zookeeper, Venom. Stallone and Cher have some good chemistry as a pair of lions, but aside from those few dimly lit bright spots?
This movie is sad. The ultimate sin of a comedy is to not be funny, and aside from a few laughs and a game attempt by Kevin James to pratfall and mug this movie to hilarity, it just doesn’t work. Give him an A for effort, but the combination of dated references, slapstick, and squabbling animals with a bad looking monkey suit (Bernie the gorilla was played by Garon Michael, who’s a professional ape performer and star of that Cadbury drumming ape commercial) and terrible mouth movement CGI just doesn’t even come close to finding an even comedic keel. Too predictable, too schmaltzy, and too dumb.