Synopsis: In Zookeeper, the animals at the Franklin Park Zoo love their kindhearted caretaker, Griffin Keyes (Kevin James). Finding himself more comfortable with a lion than a lady, Griffin decides the only way to get a girl in his life is to leave the zoo and find a more glamorous job. The animals, in a panic, decide to break their time-honored code of silence and reveal their biggest secret: they can talk! To keep Griffin from leaving, they decide to teach him the rules of courtship â animal style. The film also stars Rosario Dawson and Leslie Bibb and features the voices of Cher, Nick Nolte, Adam Sandler, and Sylvester Stallone.
Release Date: July 8, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Children and Family
Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) has planned a very romantic moment for his girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb). As they ride on horseback the many cliches of romantic bliss float through the air at the beginning of Zookeeper. There is a catch of course, when the moment comes where Griffin gets down on one knee and proposes Stephanie says no. Humiliation sets in, and the mariachi band and heart fireworks that occur on cue as they ride away, now both single, screams for empathy towards Griffin. Being a zookeeper is difficult, when it comes to impressing the ladies. Flash forward 5 years and we are finally in the zoo where Griffin works. It is full of a variety of animals, and a lonely Gorilla whose history is tainted. Griffin is head zookeeper, joined by veterinarian Kate (Rosario Dawson), a blink-and-you-will-miss-him reptile handler Venom (Ken Jeong of The Hangover movies), and a couple other unimportant characters thrown in for good measure–or just thrown in. Then there are the animals, who talk. This is of course not known to Griffin or anyone else and it is because of a heroic deed he performs that the animals decide to break the animal code of “never talk to humans.” The code is broken in order to convince Griffin to not quit his job at the zoo to go work in an auto dealership with his brother where he is sure to win back Stephanie’s heart (yes, she has returned) by being someone he is not. One could call the animals the fairy godmothers, or matchmakers of the story. After watching Zookeeper from start to finish you may as well refer to them as being in the wrong movie altogether.
Zookeeper is essentially a romantic comedy that plays by all of the generic rules of a lackluster, formulaic romantic comedy. The spin is of course the talking animals who give Griffin advice on how to succeed in wooing Stephanie back into his arms. Animals may not be too keen on exactly how to woo a human female, and this then leads to a variety of scenes where you watch Griffin imitate, act like, or mimic different animals. In a perfect world these scenes would be hilarious. In reality they exist to make Kevin James make a complete ass out of himself, without any semblance of humor whatsoever. The empathy referred to above reoccurs, not for the character of Griffin, but for the actor/comedian Kevin James. You feel his pain at having to perform such inane acts on film with the hope someone out there will laugh.
Zookeeper is playing at being a children’s film by including talking animals, who at times are funny and do really try to entertain the audience out of their misery. The montage of male to gorilla bonding does have its enjoyable moments, as well as the scene at a wedding between Griffin and Kate when he takes on the role of a man who insults woman in order to get them to like him. In a fleeting moment you see the comedic talent that exists inside of Kevin James, and just as quickly it is stripped away when he is forced back into the bumbling buffoon the script calls for from his character. The only positive note in Zookeeper is the briefly touched upon mention against animal cruelty; and of course the standing theme to be true to yourself and someone who loves you for you are is the one you should be with–formula at it’s best.
The singular place the animals have in this film is to provide a sense of comic relief from the mundane storyline. While a great deal of their screen time is shared with Griffin it is the cheeky one-liners, mostly offered up by Monkey (voiced by Adam Sandler) that garner the greatest laughs. They are also the only bit of the script that a child might have any interest in watching whatsoever. The constant jovial banter between Lion (voiced by Sylvester Stallone) and Lioness (voiced by Cher) also pleases time and again with their internal power struggle. This group of animals has the ability to carry a film, just not this film. Their time is spent as a sideline act, not the main attraction. Leaving the comedy to a bare minimum and the constant feeling that they just do not belong, even in a film with the word zoo in the title. At the least they do offer up some good laughs along the way.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Frank CoraciKevin JamesAdam Sandler
- Producer(s): Nick BakayRock ReubenKevin JamesJay Scherick
- Screenwriter(s): David RonnKevin James (Griffin Keyes)
- Story: Rosario Dawson (Kate)
- Cast: Leslie Bibb (Stephanie)Ken Jeong (Venom)Donnie Wahlberg (Shane) Joe Rogan (Gale)Adam Sandler (voice of Donald The Monkey)Nick Nolte (voice of Bernie the Gorilla)Sylvester Stallone (voice of Joe the Lion)Judd Apatow (voice of Barry the Elephant)Cher (voice of Janet the Lioness)Maya Rudolph (voice of Mollie the Giraffe)Scott Hill
- Editor(s): Michael Barrett
- Cinematographer: Rupert Gregson-Williams
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA