Sunday, 17 July 2011

Zookeeper Review

Let me just start by saying that, yes, the premise is ridiculous.  Kevin James is assisted by a bunch of lovable talking animals in his attempt to win back a girl.  You know going in that you are going to get a Kevin James movie.  By that I mean there's going to be a lot of him talking awkwardly and falling down.  The movie does not try to be anything else.  There's no underlying theme or moral and it is unbelievably predictable.  But it is just good, clean family fun (which is odd for a movie that has Joe Rogan in it).  As an aside, don't let the poster fool you.  They've photoshopped about 30 pounds of James on it which is good because he's at his best when he's an agile big guy.

That being said, the family aspect of the movie does seem to be a bit tacked on.  It really isn't a kid's movie.  Most of the jokes, while clean, are things that will just go over most kids' heads.  The only thing Zookeeper has going for it with the kids is the talking animals angle.  I think this made me like it even more.  They put in quite a few of those "out of left field" subtle jokes that make it even funnier (eg. It's a movie with talking animals and he takes the Gorilla to TGIFridays and all I can think is, "where did he get a guitar?").  Zookeeper does start out very slow and the first animal talking scene seems very forced and uninspired.  You start by thinking you may have wasted your money and time but, trust me, it gets a lot better quite quickly.

James and Rosario Dawson also have a really good on screen chemistry that works.  James is his typical, buffoonery self that makes me laugh out loud.  But as for the supporting cast, it's pretty weak.  Leslie Bibb and Joe Rogan are below average in their performances.  The only thing really saving Rogan was the fact that many of his lines were quite funny.  But his performance was well below anything he ever did on NewsRadio.  Ken Jeong tones down his Hangover character enough to make a half-decent reptile wrangler.  Finally, the animal voices.  For the most part, they were done well and cast well.  Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, Cher, Judd Apatow, John Favreau and Faizon Love all do a very good job (especially Apatow as the Elephant).  The two that were not that great were Nick Nolte and Maya Rudolph; especially Rudolph.  She is downright horrible as the giraffe.  It is actually painful to listen to.  Nolte would have been a lot better if he hadn't made Bernie sound like a constipated Karl Childers (you know: Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade).  It also seemed that, at times, the jokes were a direct result of what the animal may have done at a particular time.  This made them seem a bit forced and maybe not fit.  But not enough to make it bad.

See it.  It's a refreshing change to have a comedy that makes you laugh out loud and you can take your mother to it.  You also come away feeling good and I think that's the point.  But don't see it in the first run theatre.  A lot of people are taking their kids to it and there isn't enough kid stuff in Zookeeper to keep them entertained.  The kids are getting bored and will annoy you as kids are wont to do.  But, at some point, I would say you should definitely take the time.

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