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Zookeeper

Zookeeper: Frivolous Animal Comedy

  • Kevin JamesLeslie Bibb...
  • Family
  • Frank Coraci
reviewed by
Omar Atef
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Zookeeper: Frivolous Animal Comedy

Griffin
Keyes’ (James) love life has been on a downward slope since his relationship
with the love of his life Stephanie (Bibb) ended some five years ago. He gets a
chance to win her back, though; and he decides that step one of recovering the
relationship is quitting his job as a zookeeper.

However, he very quickly realizes
that leaving his post will be no easy task, as one by one, the animals reveal
an uncanny ability to speak. With this god-given gift, the animals try and keep
Griffin at the zoo, with the promise of helping him win Stephanie back in
return. Having no option but to accept this unexpected source of help, Griffin
also unwittingly enlists the aid of the zoo’s vet Kate (Dawson), as he goes on
a bizarre journey of self-discovery.

We hoped and
prayed that the idea of super-intelligent talking animals would be buried deep
in the Hollywood graves with films like Eddie Murphy’s Dr. Dolittle (2001). Unfortunately, the American production companies
can’t get enough of it, with atrocities such as Furry Vengeance (2010) and the 2001 and 2009 instalments of the Cats and Dogs franchise continuing to be churned out. We have no real
objection to this most awesome of fantasies, but it’s rare that a decent story is
put together around it.

Unfortunately,
it seems that director Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Click),
only shines when working on Adam Sandler projects, with Jackie Chan’s disappointing Around
the World in 80 Days
(2006) being evidence of this. Apart from the
predictable plot, he has once again failed to utilise the talents of his actors
to make a decent flick.

Despite this, the actors make a good
job out of a bad situation. James’ character is charming in a way and plays the
underachieving underdog role well. It seems that this is his forte, as the
character of Griffin is similar to the one he played in Hitch (2006); only this time around, he’s
taking advice from animals instead of Will Smith. Versatile actress
Rosario Dawson succeeds in conveying her likeability and brings a little grace
to a pretty graceless film. Dawson’s various turns in films such as Clerks II (2006) show that given the
right and role script, she can roll with the best comedic actors.

The only
thing that makes this a little more tolerable is the eclectic mix of voice-actors; Adam Sandler
is a monkey, Nick Nolte is a gorilla, and Sylvester Stallone and Cher voice a
lion-and-lioness couple. If you’re struggling to find a reason to see this
film, then a lion with the voice of everyone’s favourite boxing underdog Rocky
is surely enough.

There’s
nothing sophisticated or complex about this film, and it’s of course one for
kids (or fans of James). But then again, it doesn’t try to be anything
more than it is. To enjoy Zookeeper
even just a little bit, you mustn’t take it seriously.

Like This? Try

Night at the Museum, Cats and Dogs, Dr Dolittle

360 Tip

Controversy has surrounded the film as it uses an elephant named Tai who was featured in a video reportedly filmed in 2005 and released in 2011 showing him being abused by his trainers. A campaign to boycott the film was formed since the outbreak of the news.

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