Kevin James, a dedicated zookeeper, is surprised to see his ex-girlfriend at his brother’s wedding. When he cannot woo her back and hence plans to leave his job, the zoo animals, who can talk, decide to break their vow of silence and help their favourite zookeeper. What happens then?
Business Rating: 1/5 star
Star cast: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb; voices of Nick Nolte, Cher, Adam Sandler and Sylvester Stallone.
What’s Good: Kevin James and Rosario Dawson’s performances; a few comedy scenes; the visual effects.
What’s Bad: The scattered story; the indigestible premise of the story; the inane sequences involving the zookeeper and the gorilla; the lack of an emotional connect with the audience.
Verdict: Zookeeper is an average fare, at best, which will be liked by select audiences only. It will do below-average business at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: Several in the latter half.
Watch or Not?: Watch Zookeeper only if you like inane comedies.
Happy Madison’s Zookeeper is the story of a zookeeper whose life changes when, one day, the animals he’s been tending to for years, start talking to him.
Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) is one among the many caretakers working at a city zoo. The simple and kind-hearted Griffin loves his job. He finds love and respect among the zoo animals – which include an elephant, a gorilla, a lion and a lioness, a monkey and a giraffe.
When Griffin hosts a party before the marriage of his brother, he meets Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), his ex-girlfriend. As Stephanie had dumped him because of his profession, Griffin now starts thinking that leaving his job might be the only way to get close to Stephanie once again or, in the alternative, shifting to another zoo would help him get away from her.
When the zoo animals find out about Griffin’s dilemma, they panic and decide to help Griffin woo Stephanie. However, in spite of their best efforts, Griffin bumbles in front of Stephanie. Desperate, the animals break their time-honoured code of silence and reveal their biggest secret to Griffin – they can talk. One by one, each animal trains Griffin in his/her way of wooing the female. Griffin is initially unsuccessful but he soon strikes gold when he takes his co-worker, Kate (Rosario Dawson), to his brother’s marriage, in order to make Stephanie jealous.
At the marriage, Griffin has fun time with Kate, but leaves with Stephanie, who is drawn close to him because of his newfound wild side. What happens next? Do Griffin and Stephanie get together for good? Does Griffin continue working in the zoo? What about Kate? What about the animals? The rest of the film and the climax answer these questions.
Zookeeper Review – Script Analysis
Jay Scherick and David Ronn’s story is one that holds promise of a comedy. However, the screenplay (by Nick Bakay, Rock Reuben, Kevin James, Jay Scherick and David Ronn) capitalises on this aspect only. The drama fails to the touch the heart. If you expect to see the relationship between the zookeeper and the animals (whether of the talking or the mute kind) go beyond the comedy, Zookeeper is not the film for you. Instead, what you get is an extremely poorly-conceived friendship between the zookeeper and a gorilla, which incidentally, spends half its time sulking in its cave and the other half prancing around in a restaurant. The screenplay, which starts off on a promising note, with a hilarious sequence of Griffin being dumped by Stephanie, soon gives way to inanities by the animals. One might not inherently dislike the fact that animals are shown to be talking in the film, but when they rant on ad nauseum, it gets irritating.
Moreover, the track of the loser, fat-guy (Griffin), wooing the bimbo (Stephanie) has been repeated so often in Hollywood films that the audience can easily predict the outcome of the romantic angle. As such, the climax of the film is very predictable. A twist in the pre-climax seems rather unbelievable. Overall, it’s the kind of script you cannot take too seriously, or you’ll just end up laughing at the stupidity of what’s happening on screen.
Zookeeper Review – Star Performances
Kevin James does a fine job as the zookeeper. He is good in scenes where he is interacting with the animals. He’s excellent in a gusty comic sequence which happens during his brother’s wedding. Leslie Bibb looks and acts her part well. Rosario Dawson is okay as Griffin’s colleague. Her transformation to a hot girl in the latter part of the film is worth watching. Ken Jeong (as Venom) and Nat Faxon (as Griffin’s brother) support well. The voice acting (for the animal characters) by Nick Nolte, Cher, Adam Sandler and Sylvester Stallone is alright.
Zookeeper Review – Direction & Music
Frank Coraci’s direction is fair at places. But he fails in establishing a connection with the audience, which is a major drawback. Rupert Gregson-Williams’ background score is okay. Michael Barrett’s cinematography is pleasing to the eyes. The visual effects are very good. Production design, by Kirk M. Petruccelli, is alright. Editing, by Scott Hill, could have been better.
Zookeeper Review – Verdict
On the whole, Zookeeper provides very little beyond a few laughs. Lack of face value and the poor publicity will also seal the film’s fate at the Indian box-office.