Zookeeper (starring Kevin James)
Griffin Keyes isn’t exactly winning with the ladies and according to his ex-girlfriend, it could be because he spends all his time at the zoo. But because Griffin is the best zookeeper his zoo’s animals have ever had, they decide to communicate with him (yes, verbally) in hopes of helping him win back his old flame.
Poor Kevin James. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy; KING OF QUEENS is one of my all time favorite comedy sitcoms. My girl has them all on DVD and I’ll never get tired of watching Doug Heffernan rip it up. His move into acting was a good call, the guy’s hilarious and there’s no reason he shouldn’t have upgraded to the big screen. I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY wasn’t perfect but it was comical and a much better spotlight role than the one he had in HITCH. I have yet to see GROWN UPS or THE DILEMMA but one thing I can say with confidence is that there can be no bigger career crusher than the epic dud that was PAUL BLART MALL COP. What happened? I mean, he must have came to same conclusion, thus we got better attempts like THE DILEMMA and GROWN UPS only to come full circle with ZOOKEEPER, a film that clearly crushed what little dignity Kevin James had left.
Let me first say that I don’t need every comedy to be a rated R; I don’t mind tamer comedies from time to time. That is, as long as you do something productive with the effort. Having people mingle with talking animals is not productive, I don’t care if Sylvester Stallone is voicing the lion and Nick Nolte the gorilla (though the outing to TGIF’s was mildly amusing). It doesn’t matter, talking animal comedies are terrible. I doubt people run up to Eddie Murphy and say, “Man, I loved your DR. DOOLITTLE movies, can you PLEASE make another one!?”. And they don’t do this for a very good reason, again, because these films make you want to slip into a coma and die in the movie theater.
The story is what really irks me here though as it’s made up of just about every romantic comedy cliché going, all pooled together in a sloppy and incredibly lazy fashion. Again, why? Why play this one by the numbers when a guy like Kevin James can do so much more? There was a brief moment there when he was turning into the evil version of himself (or more specifically reverting back to Doug Heffernan) and I almost had a good time only to be let down by the old “I’m trying to be somebody I’m not” bit. Now I’ll also admit that I don’t know much about zoos or zoo keeping but I’m pretty sure you won’t find women like Rosario Dawson on their payroll. Too bad though as that would definitely make me want to hang out at the zoo.
ZOOKEEPER was precisely the mess I expected it to be, a special kind of mess with a peculiar cast that confused me to the point where I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry. Thank goodness for Ken Jeong, he wasn’t on screen often but he’s a man who can always put a smile on my face. I can’t believe he was a doctor until he decided to try comedy at an open mike club, but even he couldn’t help Kevin James pull this one off. I really want Kevin James to succeed in Hollywood, but he needs to want it bad enough to say no to garbage like this. PAUL BLART should’ve raised all the red flags necessary to avoid this mess, but hey, sometimes one kick in the face just isn’t enough. Hopefully this kick will leave a mark and smarten him up because Kevin James has the potential to be one of the funniest guys out there. Maybe Sly should make him download Eye of the Tiger and tell him to listen to it at least once a day.