The movie sees Kevin James play Griffin Keyes, a loveable zookeeper who has his heart broken by Leslie Bibb’s Stephanie because he doesn’t live up to her perfect corporate man etc etc. Five years on he’s been made lead zookeeper and she re-enters his life due to his brother’s wedding. The animals in the zoo, knowing that he’s still hung up on her, formulate a plan (yes, they schedule some meetings) to get them back together and cheer up their lovelorn carer. Throw in his sweet and likeable co-worker in the form of Rosario Dawson and you’ve got yourself a rom-com, mister.
The plot is basically your cookie-cutter rom-com with the weird added extra of talking animals. Basically all the usual plot devices and holes apply. James is a teddy bear and Dawson is unbearably cute, while Bibb’s character is a particularly vaccuous bitch with no heart and no goodness in her and, as usual, you will wonder what the leading man was doing with such an evil cow in the first place. As for the animals, with the exception of Nick Nolte’s Bernie the Gorilla, feel like they phoned it in, making for boring and easily fogettable segments. In fact, you wonder if this would have made a more successful straight up romantic comedy than family film.
The friendship between Griffin and Bernie develops very nicely throughout the movie. The gorilla brings a good deal of heart and warmth to the story and gives us some kind of positive emotional attachment. The other animals manage to fade into the background, between their stock characters and poor voice acting. Children should be kept entertained but there’s very little for the adults as far as the zoo humour is concerned.
Overall Zookeeper is a nice safe family film with a bit of something to keep everyone going for a little over 90 mins. Some laugh out loud moments and comfortably familiar story make for easy watching, even if you take nothing away from it. Definitely not the best film you’ll see this year, not the worst.
See it if: There’s nothing else on, or you fancy Rosario Dawson.
Zookeeper is released in the UK and Ireland tomorrow, 22nd July.
Also, if I have to watch Ken Jeong play that same character one more time I’ll scream.