Kevin James and his CGI animals
What’s morose about Zookeeper is the fact that it could have been a lot better. But, upon learning that Adam Sandler is one of the producers (and voice artist), I knew I was fighting a losing battle. Sandler’s reputation at thrashing storylines with his expired SNL jokes is quite the reason why I sympathize with moviegoers.
His last film, Just Go With It was as lame as a six-toed cat on crack in a Chinese whorehouse. There are movies that entertain and there’s Sandler who thinks his movies entertain. 50 First Dates is the only exception. Kevin James himself has a similar repertoire (for instance, Paul Blart: Mall Cop).
Zookeeper, as I mentioned earlier, had the storyline that could have nailed it. Animals break their code to help the titular character get back with his ex-girlfriend. Most gags in this film include the animals teaching their mannerisms to James. The wolf teaches him to pee in public, the bears teach him to walk stupid and the lion… well, the lion just poses around.
Most of the voice actors just use their own voices, which are okay. But, Sandler trying to match a capuchin monkey just blows. There’s Sylvester Stallone as the lion, Cher as the lioness, Nick Nolte as the gorilla, and Maya Rudolph as a singing giraffe. The presence of Rosario Dawson (playing a vet) in the film is inevitable. The actress has never made it to the A-list despite her talent.
Zookeeper has its moments of humour. The proposal at the beginning, where James’ girlfriend (Leslie Bibb) turns him down instantly, tops the list. Frank Coraci, who has a long collaboration with Sandler, makes an erstwhile effort in caring what animals can do. He lets James ride on the back of a gorilla as they scale down Brooklyn Bridge.
Zookeeper uses animal gags for the sake of humour. I wonder if those succeeded in amusing the kids, because they sure didn’t amuse me.