Review by Jack Foley
TALKING animals in non-animated form remain one of the least appealing cinema prospects. Kevin James making a prat of himself perhaps even less so.
Frank Coraci’s Zookeeper combines both to wholly depressing effect… unless you’re under 10 and have never seen another movie before!
Part rom-com, part Dr Dolittle inspired family comedy, Zookeeper fails on both levels by virtue of the fact it plays so dumb and juvenile.
James stars as Griffin Keyes, an amiable zookeeper whose beach-side proposal at the start of the film is callously turned down by Leslie Bibb’s money-grabber.
Heartbroken but undeterred, Griffin vows to win her back by proving that he’s better than his surroundings and enlists the help of sweet (and better suited) zoo vet Kate (Rosario Dawson) to do so.
Unwittingly, he also encourages the resident zoo animals to break their vow of silence to help him do so too.
What ensues is an interminable series of gags involving the humiliation of James (either by pratfall, put-down or self-induced idiocy) that aim low and hit lower.
So, if the sight of James urinating in a swanky public restaurant to mark his territory (as per animal advice) tickles your fancy, this is the movie for you.
To anyone else, this is puerile stuff that lacks anything to recommend it in the romantic comedy stakes (it’s all too telegraphed and boring, even for the kids) and nothing inventive involving the talking animals (think Madagascar, only dumber).
Indeed, the most fascinating thing about Zookeeper remains the A-list calibre voice cast that includes Nick Nolte (gorilla), Sylvester Stallone (lion), Cher (lioness), Judd Apatow (elephant), Adam Sandler (monkey) and Jon Favreau (bear), to name but a few.
No one, though, can inject any life or charisma into the film’s lame script which rates alongside Coraci’s past Adam Sandler collaborations The Waterboy and Click as a highly tedious experience.
Running time: 102mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: November 21, 2011