Last week we had talking robots saving the earth, now it’s time for talking animals, Kevin James and Adam Sandler style. Zookeeper is the story of a zookeeper who gets dumped for being, well, a zookeeper. He might be in love and out of luck with the girl of his dreams, but he’s great at his job and more importantly, the animals love him. The premise might not seem so enticing, but behind this wacky story there’s a voice cast of A-list comedians. Let’s see if they were able to make this live-action comedy work…

The Players:

The Plot:

In Zookeeper, the animals at the Franklin Park Zoo love their kindhearted caretaker, Griffin Keyes (James). Finding himself more comfortable with a lion than a lady, Griffin decides the only way to get a girl in his life is to leave the zoo and find a more glamorous job. The animals, in a panic, decide to break their time-honored code of silence and reveal their biggest secret – they can talk! To keep Griffin from leaving, they decide to teach him the rules of courtship, animal style.

The Good:

  • Bromance: It’s unreal to even picture a grown man and a giant gorilla sitting together at a T.G.I. Friday’s ordering BBQ ribs and 30 oranges, yes, but not in a goof comedy like Zookeeper. In the middle of a corny love story and live-action talking animals, there’s a bromance between a Zookeeper and a gorilla. Sounds ridiculous, but the conversations between these two friends make a grownups’ heart melt. This bromance is way better than the romance that drives Griffin to quit his dream job. We’re able to see the friendship develop and grow stronger and this makes us (the grownups) fall in love with the relationship itself. It’s unreal, yes but heartwarming at the same time.
  • Talking animals: If you take a good look at the credits, you’d be amazed by how much talent is behind the voices of the talking animals. We’ve got A-list comedians like Adam Sandler, Maya Rudolph, Judd Apatow, and Jon Favreau, along with superstars like Cher and Sylvester Stallone. Wow! Although the talents of said actors are better spent on other projects than Zookeeper, the talking animals were fun to watch and fun to hear.

The Bad:

  • Kevin James: James has come a long way from his days as the lovable husband on “The King of Queens.” With the help of Sandler, James has been able to get away with Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Grown Ups, and now, Zookeeper. I could say that James plays the part of a love-rejected zookeeper all wrong, but that’s not entirely true. He’s able to connect with a gorilla and make it enjoyable to watch. But what James fails to do is make us believe that beautiful woman like Leslie Bibb and Rosario Dawson would fall in love with him. He fails to be all-around funny. The slapstick comedy will get the kids to laugh, but what about grownups? He needs to trade the ‘I’m desperate. I don’t know what to do with my life’ act for something else, seriously.
  • Story: Yes, this is a love story. Guy gets rejected by dream girl (who happens to be blonde) for being a lowly zookeeper. Guy tries to get girl back by making her jealous, and ends up falling for the other girl. The end. Boring. Corny. You name it.

Overall:

Babe was one of my all-time favorite movies as a kid. The star of the show was a talking pig, and it was great. There’s nothing wrong with talking animals or love stories or bromances between gorillas and zookeepers, but when you have an annoying, unfunny lead, the movie isn’t going to be so great and that’s what happened here. There are a few good moments, but overall, Zookeeper should’ve been kept from audiences.

Rating: 3.5/10

Zookeeper hits theaters July 8, 2011.

Photo Gallery:

Trailer:

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