Family, Romantic Comedy, Kids and Science Fiction are about the only movie genre’s today that aren’t rated R, and even the Science Fiction movies are rated R these days too. Although I do watch R movies if it is one that I feel will possess the content that will be redeeming in some way (which I’m wrong half the time) I do appreciate a good review to help me know what I’m getting myself into. That’s why I started this blog is to communicate with like minded individuals who appreciate what the entertainment business has to offer that makes a person feel better about humanity, life, love and spirituality. These are what I call “rare gems” in the entertainment business. Unfortunately many of the “feel good” movies cater to an audience under 10, or assume that most families are not very intelligent because the plot is so uninteresting or it is written in a satirical way that seems to make fun of itself. I chose Zookeeper for this review simply because it rises above all of my criticisms of movies (mostly).
I love a simple story with great writing that delivers comedy through one liners as though you were watching a stand up comedy routine. Those are some of my favorite sitcoms to watch and this movie plays out very much like an ongoing sitcom. One of my favorite actors who primarily plays the same character he was in “King of Queens” is Kevin James. He is so great with physical comedy and really delivers in this movie. There were several times I was cringing and afraid that he may really have hurt himself in the making of this movie but that’s his comic genius.
Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) is a Zookeeper (duh) and he’s supposed to be the best zookeeper the zoo has ever had because he thinks of the animals more like people than animals. He talks to them and tries to get inside their heads in order to meet their needs more appropriately. To say the animals adore him is an understatement because when they hear he may be leaving the zoo again to follow a gorgeous blond buxom supermodel Stephanie (Leslie Bibb) they hatch a plan to help him land the girl of his dreams thinking he’ll be happy and stay at the zoo; until their plan backfired. That’s when things get crazy around the zoo and we get a surprise when we find out that the lion has a name and he isn’t ashamed to say it. Sylvester Stallone plays Joe the Lion in a major role along with Nick Nolte as Bernie the Gorilla and Adam Sandler as Donald the Monkey. Each of the animals are played by talented actors both young and old(er) with the kind of fines that makes this movie so endearing. My favorite is when Bruce and Jerome the bears (Faizon Love and Jon Favreau) fight with each other because they have just the right kind of humor and playfulness in their voices to make it sound so funny.
Griffin desperate to win over his ex lover Stephanie who dumped him because he was just a Zookeeper starts to take advice from each of the animals about how to win over a woman. Each animal gives their advice from the perspective of their own instincts for their species which makes this movie so funny. There are two premises though that are difficult to swallow the first being that Stephanie, a supermodel would have been interested in Griffin in the first place and that she would consider going back to him at all. Secondly it is even more silly that a zookeeper that knows animal behavior already would consider taking advice from animals about women at all no matter how desperate he was. As long as you the watcher can suspend your belief enough to enjoy the comedy in this movie you will enjoy it greatly. There is something here for the whole family to enjoy and surprisingly it is a darn good romantic comedy too which I wasn’t expecting. The surprise chemistry between Kevin James and Rosario Dawson is largely due to her amazing acting ability. Equally as enjoyable was Ken Jeon as “Venom;” a crazy assistant who is gives inappropriate social conduct a new name.
The most endearing aspect to this movie is that it teaches us that it is much better to not just be true to who we are but to also strive to understand other people’s circumstances and life struggles and find ways to be an encouragement to them. Griffin does that with the animals but many of us have people around us that are in need of friendship, compassion, a listening ear or just a smile or a laugh. If we make an effort to take the time to connect on a heart level with strangers or co-workers little changes can effect a lot of people for good in our world. Perhaps we may even see fewer prescriptions for anti-depressants in this country.