Zookeeper (2011) – Review

2 Stars

Zookeeper‘s tagline should have been Hitch With Animals, because there’s truly no better description for this low rent Night at the Museum wannabe. Produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison, Zookeeper continues Sandler’s current flare for family friendly comedic movies. Unfortunately it delivers a boring boy wants girl because she’s drop dead gorgeous on the outside, and then finds out he doesn’t want her because she’s ugly as sin on the inside. Head zookeeper Griffith Keyes, played by funny man Kevin James (Hitch), struck out with his proposal to the beautiful Stephanie, played by Leslie Bibb, years ago. When she pops back into his life because of his friend’s wedding the animals at his zoo spring into action to stop him from leaving. They reveal that they can speak to Griffith and begin to help him with getting the girl.

Everything in the movie can be seen coming from a mile away. There are no surprises here, and few laughs. The funniest moment in the film is the opening scene where Griffith’s proposal goes awry. A minor subplot with an abused gorilla is somewhat humorous when Griffith springs him from his cage for a night out at TGIF. Kevin James does have a charisma about him that makes rooting for his happiness almost natural. We want Griffith to wind up with the girl that’s right for him, but Zookeeper doesn’t just make it obvious what choice is right, it smashes it in your face over and over again. This takes away any sort of excitement from Griffith’s struggle to be loved. Rosario Dawson plays Kate, the standard girl that guy’s don’t know they want. She’s lovable, kind, fun and exciting; the exact opposite of the gold digging Stephanie.

A scene in which Griffith and Kate attend his friend’s wedding in order to make Stephanie jealous is surprisingly heart warming. Kevin James seems to be genuinely having fun and his accidental physical destruction of the reception is deserving of a chuckle or two. During this time though, the animals are forgotten, which goes to show just how important they are to the story. Everything in Zookeeper serves only to help marketing. Want a family movie? Zookeeper has talking animals. Want a comedy? Zookeeper has Kevin James. It’s as formulaic as one can get, and it results in an overall unsuccessfully comedic and fun movie. Even the celebrity voices for the animals are hard to place. They sound more like impressions and if you don’t already know who they are, guessing them could be the funnest thing about the film.

Director: Frank Coraci
Stars: Kevin James, Leslie Bibb, Rosario Dawson

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