Zookeeper – 2011

Directed by Frank Coraci

Starring Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Mark Wahlberg, Leslie Bibb, Joe Rogan, Ken Jeong, with the voice work of Sylvester Stallone, Cher, Nick Nolte, Adam Sandler, Maya Rudolph, Bas Rutten

Written by Nick Bakay, Rock Rueben, Kevin James, Jay Scherick, David Ronn

It took 5 writers for this movie.  That’s right, 5.  For a premise that involves a fat guy zookeeper having to choose between two chicks with movie star good looks, all the while taking dating advice from a bunch of talking animals who allow themselves to be locked up in a zoo.  You heard me, they allow themselves to be locked up, and they are talking animals.  I am pretty sure I could have come up with something similar if you’d given me a bottle of Southern Comfort and the weekend with Ron Magill from Zoo Miami.  We’d come up with a better “Love” story…and better enclosures for the animals…and some that might keep the patrons away from the animals.

The plot, it does not matter.  The key is to get Kevin James out there, looking dumpy and sad sackish as it is possible to look, and then give him opportunities to come through in the clutch.  He uses one girl to make the other jealous.  And you can bet he finds love in the girl that he was using.  In the mean time, we are subject to a bunch of animals act like they are waiting for the next Madagascar movie.  Then you throw in Joe Rogan as another male in competition with him, and you have the makings of every crappy movie that’s ever been made.  And this took 5 writers.

For James, stuck in a rut is a way of living.  This movie is basically Paul Blart: Zookeeper.  I have the feeling this movie formula will be repeated ad nauseum until the day he keels over.  Of course, he will take his breaks to make artistic statements, like Grown Ups, where he plays, Paul Blart: Grown Up Best Buddy.  This movie is not entirely worthless.  My 8-year-old really liked it and the plot was just right for her.  The talking animals, you see, they appeal to the kids.

“He should have gotten married to Kate,” she says at a “crucial” point in the film, where Paul, er. Griffin, chooses the old movie star looking chick over the one that works at the zoo.

“Don’t worry, Em,” I said, “I have a feeling that Paul Blart’s going to end up back at the Zoo.”

“Do you think?” said my wife, sarcastically, “And with Kate?  Big surprise.”

Movies like this are okay for kids under ten.  If they still pay to see them as an adult, then we have a problem.

“My best guess,” my wife says, “Is that there will be a race to the airport to meet up with his true love…and let’s not forget the talking animals helping out.”

She figured this out and she had not even seen the beginning of the movie.  Amazing, I know.

(*1/2 out of *****)

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