I first saw the trailer for Zookeeper when I saw Super 8 about a month ago. Two of my friends of that group gave it thumbs down, another gave it a so-so, and me I was kind of looking forward to it. Now I did expect it to be juvenile and I didn’t think this movie would be the best thing to hit theatres, but to my surprise I found it to be much more enjoyable then I expected. Zookeeper is a family film, not kid’s film mind you, that can appeal to a wide variety of ages. So sit back, relax, and read about this wild adventure.
So if you haven’t seen the trailer, Zookeeper is about Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) an enthusiastic zoo keeper who has had his heart broken by his former girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb). After starting to move on with his life, he has another run in with Stephanie and his emotions begin to get the best of him again as he plans on changing his career to get the girl. The animals hearing this announcement come up with a plan to help Griffin get the girl while staying at the zoo to take care of him. This plan involves the animals talking to and teaching Griffin how to tap into his natural animal instincts and make him a more desirable man. Along the way Griffin also get some help from a few human friends who help provide some emotional support, but talking animals are his biggest support group.
As usual I’ll start with the acting. Kevin James plays his typical comedic role being loud, random, and a klutz. The combination of these three qualities is what helps make Griffin funny often saying something awkward and random which lead to situations where he is typically screaming and goofing up something. There were plenty of times I was laughing at just how Kevin James reacted to the situation and was still just as impressed by his performance. To help counterbalance the humor though, James also plays that sweet, sentimental, caring, innocent, and sensitive role that he has played in various movies. It helps bring some emotion to the role, and James’s way of naturally acting like a loser kind of hits close to home for those who have not had an easy time with romance. However, if you’ve seen him play this role, like in Hitch, then you’ve basically seen the main character of this film. Other human actors that helped out with this movie are Rosario Dawson who played the veterinarian Kate. Her role was kind of Griffin’s best human friend, being sweet, outgoing, and loyal to Griffin’s character. Leslie Bibb, in all of her beauty, plays the sensational and image obsessed Stephanie and does a great job playing the role, though sometimes she sound airheaded in the process. The final major player is Griffin’s rival Gale (Joe Rogan) who plays an arrogant, Northern, and self-absorbed jock who is also trying to win Stephanie’s heart. Again Rogan plays this role quite well and captures the jerk nature in more ways in one, which really makes you dislike him from the very start.
However what really provided the comedy for this movie were the animals giving Griffin the advice to win over Stephanie. Perhaps what made me laugh the most was the clever comedy in the animal’s advice, which many times referenced the ecology of various animals. The various niches, roles, and behavior patterns that one can see on animal planet are brilliantly integrated into comedic dialog, which had everyone in the audience laughing hard. Another thing that adds a little spice to the already funny dialog is the voice cast for this film. This cast includes Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, Cher, Maya Rudolph, Jon Favreau, and others each placed with an appropriate animal that mirrored their personalities. The voice work and nice timing of the dialog also helped with the comedy in the dialog, with the actors saying the lines just right to make the lines even funnier.
The comedy however is not the only strength this movie has going for it. One big positive for me was how fun and upbeat the film was. Although the story was simple, I had a lot of fun getting to know the animals, watching Kevin James make a fool of him, and actually seeing the animals do some neat tricks. The pace was also pretty fast and didn’t really drag out, which kept me interested in the film. Yet another positive was the fact that a majority of the cast had some decent character development and were not just some mindless idiots spouting out random comedic moments. Yes, there was some idiotic moments, but instead of it being like the Hangover or Harold and Kumar there was actually other levels to the characters. I also enjoyed the happiness in the movie and the morals it can teach to the audience. Instead of the characters being unhappy, greedy, or rage filled, most of the cast was happy with their life at the beginning but found even more happiness as the movie progressed. Although some of the goals and relationships in the movie were cheesy and some of the happiness was drawn out, there were still some good morals within the movie.
However there are some flaws with this movie that many people have been picking out in their reviews. For one thing, many reviews seem to hate the fact that the comedy is immature, childlike, and not very original. Although this is true, the fact that this is supposed to be a family movie should have been a big hint that the comedy is not like what we’ve seen in movies like Brides Maids, the Hangover, etc. However, I will agree that the comedy can get old after a while. Another big weakness is some of the lines, situations, and relationship issues are drawn out, overdramatic, or cheesy and not really believable. This may not matter in a family movie, but still this movie may have had given the movie a little more depth and a little less eye rolling. Perhaps the biggest flaw to the movie though is how predictable the movie is from the start. Within probably 10-20 minutes I was able to predict about eighty percent of the movie and I was able to get the rest of the movie within a half an hour. Thus the original ideas are really lacking in this movie and may not impress you. If you predict the movie like I did, then you may get bored with the movie, but I thought the cuteness and cleverness of the movie were enough to keep it interesting.
Zookeeper may not be the best movie in the entire world and may just be a modern day Mr. Magoo. However, it’s a nice family movie with a lot of clever jokes, good morals, and heartwarming moments that should be enjoyable by most. If you’re not a fan of comedy that is not crude, rude, or raunchy then yes you want to avoid this movie. If you don’t need this kind of comedy then I strongly suggest seeing this movie or at least NetFlixing it when it comes out on DVD. Keeping everything in mind, I’ll give Zookeeper an 8.0 or 8.5 for accomplishing its goal and for being a fan of Kevin James. So as always my friends have fun and keep enjoying the movies and I’ll see you next time.