In “Zookeeper”, lead Zookeeper Griffin Keyes (Kevin James), of Franklin Park Zoo, is loved and respected by the animals. But when they see him depressed about Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), a woman he had proposed to 5 years earlier on the beach that turned him down, they form a bond to lift his spirits.
Griffin decides to leave the Zoo to get his girl back and take on a more prestige job. The animals go into panic mode and break their silence by talking. This freaks him out and it sends him running for cover. But they’re just trying to give him some confidence to build up his self esteem. Zookeeping isn’t exactly a chick-picker-upper job.
Griffin is joined by veterinarian Kate (Rosario Dawson), and a lizard handler Venom (Ken Jeong from “The Hangover” movies) but it’s just a short role, so catch him when you can. There are some other unimportant characters thrown in just for filler sakes I guess. They didn’t make or break this movie.
Griffin packs his bags and moves on to city life but if the animals have any say in this matter, and they literately do, it will be short lived. The main group of animals featured here are Mollie the Giraffe (voice of Maya Rudolph), Barry the Elephant (voice of Judd Apatow), Donald the Monkey (voice of Adam Sandler), Joe the Lion (voice of Slyvester Stallone), Bruce the Bear (voice of Faizon Love), Janet the Lioness (voice of Cher), and Griffin’s main man Bernie the Gorilla (voice of Nick Nolte). Bernie was wrongly accused a long while back of injuring an assistant zookeeper Shane (Donnie Wahlberg) and has no kind words for his nail stick.
Griffin plans a scheme. He pairs up with Kate at a formal function and insults women in order to try to get them to be drawn to him. Wow, I never tried that one before. His main objective, however, is really to get Stephanie back. He does this with the help of his Gorilla pal. Those two form a bond that was actually very positive. Bernie climbs walls and paddles a canoe and eats popcorn too. No mention of any animals being potty trained and they teach Griffin how to ‘mark’ his territory.
All the animals are rooting for Griffin but at the same time, they don’t want to loose him from the Zoo, but they support him anyway. One rare light moment was the bickering between Lion and Lioness and some one-liners are provided by Monkey. And poor Gorilla wants a scenic room and dinner at TGI Fridays and he gets his way with both. Fridays Waitress Jackie Sandler, was the lucky one to be their server and then they party at the establishment.
I felt the animals were strong but not strong enough to carry the film in it’s entirety as a main act. Maybe a sequel if so. The comedy factor wasn’t strong enough to cause any one in the Indianapolis screening to bust their stitches laughing. And you would think a movie with all with a lot of animals characters would attract laughter. I did chuckle at some spots like during the outtakes with the ending credits. I spoke to a lady (Shannon who, with her group of very polite boys, and she and her kids liked it). It is a film geared towards kids like “Dr. Doolittle”, but it’s not “Dr. Doolittle”. It’s “Zookeeper”. It just never picked up enough comedy speed.
“Zookeeper” is directed by Frank Coraci and Adam Sandler has a hand in producing this film along with his voice over.
“Zookeeper” is rated PG, runs 104 minutes, opens everywhere against some stiff competition, new and old, on July 8, 2011 and is not in 3-D. It is a Broken Road Production, Columbia picture and a Happy Madison production.
By Hustlin Bob Higgins 2 stars