Zookeeper, Frank Coraci

<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>

Directed by Frank Coraci. Starring Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb.

You’d think with funny man Kevin James starring and his buddy Adam Sandler producing that this film would be at least a tad enjoyable. I’ll be a monkey’s uncle but I never thought they’d make a film this bad.

Griffin Keyes is a zookeeper ladies and gentlemen. And five years ago his ‘clearly-out-of-my-league’ girlfriend Stephanie (Bibb) refused to marry him just for that reason. Now, he still works at the zoo, caring for the animals, which he does very well indeed. He builds tyre-swings for the gorilla Bernie (voiced by Nick Nolte). Barry the elephant (Judd Apatow), Jerome the bear (Jon Favreau), Joe the lion (Sylvester Stallone), Janet the lioness (Cher), Donald the monkey (Adam Sandler), Mollie the giraffe (Maya Rudolph) and Kate (Dawson) the pretty zoo vet, all want Griffin to be happy and get the girl.

Yes, the reason for mentioning all the animals was to give you a good idea of the voice talent accumulated by Sandler for his production. One of Hollywood’s most successful actor/producers, Sandler doesn’t pull any stops. Unfortunately, all the voices sound either too flat or too loud and gruff or too similar for us to get attached to or develop a fondness for. They just grate on your nerves till you’re batty in the head. Some people commented that they didn’t know the animals in this film talked. I wish they didn’t.

James is back in his King of Queens-type attire and doing what he does best. Dawson as his side love interest really shouldn’t be in this film, it doesn’t befit her.

The animals try and help Griffin get a makeover and hone his alpha-male skills but the process isn’t really fun as much as it is clumsy and futile.

The side story about the friendship that develops between Griffin and the gorilla Bernie is interesting but never reaches full potential inspite of the fact that they party at TGIF. Even the angle with the animal cruelty gets short shrift and is almost forgotten, which negates any hidden message about animal rights and protection they may have thought about. Actually, they should have thought about audience rights and the cruelty they’d be putting us through.

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