Friday, July 8, 2011

Movie Review: Zookeeper

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Adam Sandler's company Happy Madison Productions is at it again with another slightly off beat romantic comedy. Sandler doesn't appear on screen, but makes his voice heard as Donald, the Capuchin monkey. Sylvester Stallone, Cher, Maya Rudolph, Nick Nolte and Don Rickles are other high powered stars that lending their vocal talents to bring a lion, a lioness, giraffe, gorilla and frog to life. Just as toys come to life when people aren't around, animals can speak in English when left alone, it's their code that keeps the secret. Although, they break their code when they find out that the person who has taken the best care of them is thinking of leaving Boston's Franklin Park Zoo. It's Sandler's buddy Kevin James playing Griffin Keyes who is the Zookeeper.

Zookeeper Movie Poster
As I sat there munching down my free small popcorn courtesy of Regal Theaters and Yahoo!, the movie immediately starts off with Griffin's elaborately set up and staged proposal to his girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb). She not only rejects him but then rebuffs him as well. Apparently Griffin never thought to test the waters before the expensive proposal and was ambushed with her answer. One of the reasons for the snub? His job as a zookeeper wasn't good enough for her.

Flash forward five years. Griffin has remained away from any romantic relationships but throws himself into his zoo work. He's good at it and his fellow zookeepers know it. His relationship with bird specialist Kate (Rosario Dawson) is very cordial and friendly as they save a lioness who stopped breathing. It's established right away that these two should be together but neither see it. Stephanie re-enters the picture at a zoo event. When the animals hear that Griffin may leave his position, they jump into action to try to assist him thereby breaking the code by speaking to him to help him win back the girl.

The animals attempt to teach Griffin on how to gather a mate. One by one each gives Griffin a lesson, most times on zoo grounds, which ends up in an embarrassing situation while being taught and again each time he tries to put the lesson into practical application. Double embarrassment, double the laughs, right? They even go so far as to try to suggest making Stephanie jealous. Griffin asks Kate to go with him to the same event where Stephanie and her current boyfriend Gale (Joe Rogan) will be. Griffin's up front by telling Kate she'll be a pawn in an attempt to win back the women who dumped him five years ago. You know where it goes from there, it's pretty formula.

The humor set out is pretty broad. It goes back and forth between the animal relationships and the human ones. It doesn't get mean spirited and at times provides some good giggles as a man attempts to follow the practices suggested by the various species. With the talk of animal attraction methods, the movie was rated PG for some rude and suggestive humor, and language. There were moments for chuckles, guffaws and a belly laugh or two during the one hour and forty-four minute movie.

Co-stars Ken Jeong and Boston hometown actor Donnie Wahlberg add in a few moments of levity and seriousness as the zoo's resident reptile wrangler and jerk. Just the joke of the lizard man nicknamed Venom wasn't enough they had to add in some other cold blooded animal humor. In the end it's a strong long hard look in the mirror that makes Griffin have a Dorothy moment realizing that which he thought he wanted elsewhere is nothing like what he already had at home. For a few extra smiles during the credits, hang around for a bit. They give some outtakes and some funny singing!

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