¨I know it shouldn’t bother me that you`re a zookeeper, but it kind of does.¨
Kevin James is at it again, although this time instead of receiving love advice from Hitch, he`s listening to the animals from the zoo. From the trailers I kind of expected this movie to be a cross between Dr. Doolittle and Night at the Museum, and it definitely was what I expected (and even worse). Zookeeper might have been written by five different screenwriters, but the story and dialogues are far from original. I couldn’t help but sense that I`d seen this movie a million times before. It`s like they blended a bunch of James`s comedies together and came up with this mixture called Zookeeper. There are hardly any funny moments in the movie, the talking animals thing isn’t new and it just didn’t work, the characters were all one dimensional, there was no chemistry whatsoever between any of the actors or animals, and the film relied heavily on Kevin James`s well known by now physical comedy and familiar gags. Frank Coraci has done some greater work in the past with films like Wedding Singer or Click, but he just misses the mark this time around. This was truly a messy comedy that never managed to catch my attention, or even get a smile out of me. I had no fun at all with Zookeeper.
Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) is a zookeeper who is about to propose to his beautiful girlfriend, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), in the beach. He has everything planned: horseback riding in the sand as the sun sets, a message in a bottle, a ring, mariachis, and even fireworks. The only problem is that Stephanie says no because she just isn’t ready to have a long term relationship with a zookeeper. Five years later, Griffin is still a zookeeper who seems to be enjoying what he`s doing. He excels in his work and the animals are lucky to have him around. Some of his co-workers include Venom (Ken Jeong), Shane (Donnie Wahlberg), and the lovely and caring vet Kate (Rosario Dawson). Griffin is preparing his brother, Dave (Nat Faxon), an engagement party at the zoo and he runs into Stephanie once again. She seems interested in him, but he`s still working at the zoo and he has competition from another one of her exes: Gale (Joe Rogan). The only solution seems to be quitting the zoo and working with his brother for a luxury car dealership. The animals in the zoo decide to help Griffin out by breaking their code of silence and giving him advice on mating. These animals include Bernie the Gorilla (voiced by Nick Nolte), Donald the Monkey (Adam Sandler), Joe the Lion (Sylvester Stallone), Janet the Lioness (Cher), Barry the Elephant (Judd Apatow), Jerome the Bear (Jon Favreau), and Mollie the Giraffe (Maya Rudolph).
Anyone who has seen a romantic comedy before will know where this plot is heading five minutes into the movie. I don’t actually have a problem with this as long as I have a fun time getting to the predicted finale, but the trip just isn’t worth it since there are very few funny moments. The talking CGI animal effects aren’t very well done, but that wouldn’t be a problem either if they had been given some funny material to work with. It`s too bad because the cast was really incredible and they could have done much better work on their own. The only true funny moment in this movie is the five minute scene between James and the gorilla as they hang out together in TGIF. It is truly a very funny scene and perhaps the only moment in which James has a connection with one of the characters in the movie. Too bad that was only part of the side story and the entire film focused on something entirely different. Kevin James is a very funny man, but we can see his physical comedy anytime on television. The material he had to work with here was just pathetic, but he is partly to blame because he helped write it. I don’t see another sequel coming out of this like in Dr. Doolittle or Night at the Museum because it really goes nowhere. This is the second Kevin James movie that I`ve seen this month that has completely disappointed me (The Dilemma). Small kids might enjoy the talking animals, but adults will most likely find this movie disappointing.