Friday, July 8, 2011


MPAA (PG) CNS/USCCB (A-III) Roger Ebert (3 stars) Fr Dennis (3 stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert’s review -

Zookeeper (directed by Frank Coraci, screenplay Nick Bakay, Rock Rueben and others including the film's star Kevin James) is a kid friendly mash-up of (R-rated) Forgetting Sarah Marshall and (PG-rated) Night at the Museum set at the Zoo.

The film begins with Griffin Keyes (played by Kevin James) setting-up a dream wedding proposal to his girl friend Stephanie (played by Leslie Gibb) – they’re riding on horseback on the beach as it nears sunset.  Stephanie spots an odd wine bottle sticking out of the sand.  Inside it is a note, as she finishes reading the note, beginning Griffin’s proposal she turns around and there’s Griffin on his knee finishing the proposal, “would you marry me?”  It’s all lovely, but Stephanie, who looks (and in the movie actually becomes) a super-model, believes that she can do better than a zookeeper.  So she answers “no.”  How embarrassing. 

Folks, if you’ve _ever_ been dumped or otherwise had your heart radically crushed in some way, remember this scene.  It will put a smile on your face ;-).  There the two are, riding off on one horse together into the sunset with Stephanie berating him about how unbelievably stupid he was to think that she’d ever marry a “mere zookeeper,” and all he can say “Honey, I may have ordered some Mariachis so just ignore them as we pass by, and please ignore the fireworks (heart shaped, exploding above them) as well."  Yes, that has _got to be_ the most gut-wrenchingly awful/funny dumping scene in American film since Woody Allen’s 1970s-era Bananas where Allen had his girlfriend in the movie breaking-up with him saying “Honey, it’s not that I’m not attracted to you. I’m _not_, but that’s not it...” :-) 

So crushed, Griffin Keyes goes back to the zoo where he’s loved by the animals and respected by much of the staff, including, above all, by zoo vet, Kate (played by Rosario Dawson)

 The movie resumes five years later.  Griffin’s  brother Dave (played by Nat Faxon) is getting married.  Griffin throws a pre-wedding party for him at the zoo.  Dave, who operates an exotic car shop is rich, though not necessarily the most up on social graces.  His knockout fiancĂ© Robin (played by Steffania de la Cruz) though doesn’t seem to mind.  I’m not sure whether it was Dave or Robin, but one of them invited Stephanie to the party, not realizing that this may fluster Griffin.  It does, but they do start talking.  In the course of the conversation while clearly indicating that she’s still not interested in someone who’s just a zoo-keeper, she indicates that she’s in the midst of a muddled relationship with a man who would have seemed to be utterly perfect for her, Gale (played by Joe Rogan).  Gale was rich, a tri-athlete and (turned out to be) a great ballroom dancer.  But he’s also kind of a, well, a-hole (sorry folks for the “R-rated terminology” for a PG-rated movie but “jerk” just doesn’t cut it).  So Griffin realizes that Stephanie “is in play.”

Will Griffin “sell his soul” to get the girl of his dreams?  He realizes that Stephanie wants him to quit the zoo.  He also knows that his brother Dave would give him a job at his car dealership if only he’d ask.  The animals (who we find a la Night at the Museum can talk and are voiced by the likes of Nick Nolte, Silvester Stalone, Adam Sandler, Maya Rudolph and Cher) get all worried that Griffin’s gonna dump the zoo for Stephanie, so they all try to help him get Stephanie without having to leave the job, giving all sorts of heart-felt “mating advice” that, well, works for them but...  Griffin even enlists zoo vet Kate to help him get closer to Stephanie by going with him as his date to his brother’s wedding.  Much ensues.  And yes, he get’s his chance.  What’s it gonna be?  The super-model Stephanie or comely in her own right vet Kate and the animals?  You get the picture.

I have to admit, I enjoyed this picture.  I found Kevin James played a _great_ lovable schmuck who in the end, of course, does “choose well.”  It’s kind of a hokey story.  But I’m kind of a sucker for them.  And the talking animals were fun.  They were a little crude but in a “cub scout camping trip” sort of a way.  So I do think the movie’s safe for kids.

One last thing, something that Americans my age (who were teens in the 1970s) would appreciate.  Yes, this film was set in Boston.  If you see the movie, you’ll understand. ;-)

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