After last week’s heated comments around a movie that shall not be named, I feel that I need to preface my ‘Zookeeper’ review by stating that I enjoy well-made family films – emphasis being placed on “well-made.” While I may not have liked many recent family flicks, I am not a hater of family films in general, which you might assume because so few of high quality have been released this year. ‘Zookeeper’ is just another poorly-made, forgettable one that lacks any merit of originality or genuine entertainment.
Kevin James plays Griffin, the lonely head zookeeper of Boston’s Franklin Zoo. After getting dumped by his uber-hot girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb, ‘Talladega Nights‘) while proposing marriage, Griffin’s heart and ego were shattered. Worried of how others would treat him, he bottled up his pain, only talking about it with the zoo animals as if each was his own personal Dr. Phil. Little did he know that they were actually listening and comprehending every word he confessed.
Five years later, Griffin and Stephanie bump into one another at the zoo, their first encounter since the incident. Watching Griffin head down the same road that caused him to lose her on the first round, all of the animals decide to break “the code” by helping Griffin out. Basically, they pull a ‘Toy Story‘/’Night at the Museum‘ by revealing that when humans are absent, they can talk and communicate just like humans.
The only thing more ridiculous than watching a silly, overweight 46-year-old man taking dating advice from a group of caged animals is watching him actually put their primal alpha male advice into action. While the main attraction of ‘Zookeeper’ should be the talking animals, instead it’s all about Kevin James acting like an animal. The majority of the talking zoo animal scenes in ‘Zookeeper’ feel like forced injections trying to keep the story in the kid zone.
In reality, ‘Zookeeper’ is nothing more than another stupid Adam Sandler-produced flick that falls flat on its face. It’s not made for children; it’s made for below-average-intelligence adults with an additive of talking animals so that it can hopefully capitalize on the kid demographic. Kevin James falls down a lot. There are several animal bodily fluid scenes, animal attacks and even the obligatory dancing animal musical number during the closing credits. Had the movie remained in the zoo and primarily focused on Kevin James’ relationship with the animals, it may have had potential to be a great kids’ movie – but it doesn’t. As is, ‘Zookeeper’ is nothing more than a dumb pile of mediocrity with a plot that rambles on more than Kevin James himself.