Five years after Griffin’s marriage proposal to Stephanie goes incredibly (and hilariously) wrong, we reunite with Griffin (Kevin James) at his brother’s engagement party. Hosted at the zoo where Griffin works, we get a glance of all the animals within the park while seeing Griffin stumble over his words when he glimpses Stephanie (Leslie Bibb) in his eyesight. From this moment on, the animals do what they can to make Griffin look like a hero to win Stephanie back, in hopes that Griffin will not leave his job as ZOOKEEPER for something flashier like working at an exotic car dealership. When Griffin accidentally learns that the animals can talk, he leans on them for dating advice and uses most of their tips too.
ZOOKEEPER is a predictable comedy with a few laugh out loud moments sprinkled in the mix that make the time spent watching the film somewhat worthwhile. I had a tough time with the script and found the majority of the film to be very frustrating. For all the work that went into creating a film with animals, special effects, animatronics and live actors, I would have thought there could have been a script to match those efforts. I have no doubt that the actors had a good time making this film but while watching this picture, the actions onscreen felt forced and expected.
Kevin James as Griffin does a decent job. He is a great physical actor and I truly appreciated his reaction after Stephanie rejects his proposal. Ever since HITCH he continually gets typecast as the awkward well-meaning guy who cannot quite land the girl of his dreams…and there just happens to be some wacky obstacle in his way. From PAUL BLART: MALL COP to ZOOKEEPER it is the same role, just different work scenarios.
Leslie Bibb played her part perfectly, but I cannot picture her character with Griffin. As a superficial model, wouldn’t her shtick get old to a down to earth guy? Or does hotness outweigh the lack of personality? The onscreen friendship between Rosario Dawson and Kevin James seemed natural and easy as coworkers at the zoo. But I never quite saw the ah-ha moment where Griffin realizes he is in love with Dawson’s character, Kate, and vice versa. The filmmakers had to spell out Kate’s broken heart (from my point of view it didn’t seem that broken). With underutilized supporting performances by Joe Rogan, Donnie Wahlberg and Ken Jeong, this comedy could have been better.
It amazes me how so many talented actors are willing to participate in such a poor comedy. The gamut of voice actors for the animals ranged from Cher, Sylvester Stallone, Maya Rudolph, Judd Apatow, Jon Favreau, Nick Nolte and of course, Adam Sandler. For the life of me I cannot understand why this movie would draw these big names. As voice actors, they did a nice job and I liked playing the game of ‘guess which actor is voicing which animal’.
As far as comedies go, this might appeal to younger kids who like to see animals talk but for me, I’ll have to pass on a second viewing.
Video (2.35:1): Nice clean picture.
Audio (5.1 DTS HD Master Audio): Great audio.
Deleted Scenes (11:43): Eight deleted scenes that were appropriately cut from the flick.
Laughing is Contagious (5:56): I think this is supposed to be a gag reel but there were only a few times where I laughed.
Bernie the Gorilla (7:13): We learn from director and animal coordinator that Bernie is – gasp – not a real gorilla and that he is completely animatronic. Really? Lots of details about the making of the gorilla and the actors inside the costume.
The Cast of ZOOKEEPER (8:31): In this typical feature, all the actors talk about how great their co-actors are and how awesome it was to work together.
Creating the Visual Effects (8:47): Four different segments that cover all aspects of visual effects necessary to make this film. It is very technical and if you like learning about this subject, you might enjoy this feature.
Behind the Stunts (5:22): Kevin James shows off that he will do 90% of the stunts in a film, from jumping a ledge, to going down a set of stairs on a trike. The best part was seeing Joe Rogan’s accidental stunt that made it in the film (when he falls over his bike).
The Furry Co-Stars (6:21): A look into the filming process with all the different animals.
Be the Bear (1:38): A bear trainer trains a bear…then trains Kevin James…