Zookeeper (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner29/07/2011

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 102 mins

While there is something definitely appealing about the idea of Nick Nolte as a gorilla, this never really gets off the ground, thanks to a poorly written script, an unfunny lead, some shocking product placement and a painful lack of laugh-out-loud gags.

What's it all about?
Directed by Frank Coraci and co-produced by Adam Sandler (who also voices Donald the Monkey), Zookeeper stars Kevin James (they should have called it Paul Blart: Zookeeper) as Griffin Keyes, a kindly zookeeper at Franklin Park zoo who's still not over his ex-girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), who dumped him right after a romantic beach proposal five years earlier. When she returns to town for his brother's wedding, Griffin decides to pursue her again and wonders whether he should leave his job in order to make her happy.

However, when the zoo animals - including Joe the Lion (Sylvester Stallone), Janet the Lioness (Cher), Bernie the Gorilla (Nick Nolte), Mollie the Giraffe (Maya Rudolph) and Donald the Monkey – get wind of Griffin's plan, they break their vow of silence in order to help him win Stephanie's love without him having to leave his job. But first they have to teach him a few animal courtship rituals ...

The Good
To give credit where it's due, whoever it was that managed to persuade Nick Nolte to voice Bernie the Gorilla deserves some sort of award for casting genius, as he's easily the best thing in the film and their night on the town (they pretend Bernie is in fancy dress) is a surreal highlight. Or it would be, if the entire five minute sequence wasn't essentially a hideous piece of product placement for TGI Friday's, prompted by Bernie asking, out of nowhere, “Is TGI Friday's really as amazing as it looks?” The rest of the voice cast are pretty good too and you actually find yourself wishing the animals had more screentime, though that's largely because the central romance is so tedious.

The Bad
The main problem is that James just isn't all that funny as Griffin and resorts to mugging and repeatedly falling over in an increasingly desperate bid for laughs. Similarly, the central romance is so obviously doomed from the start (especially when his co-worker is played by Rosario Dawson) that the plot seems like a waste of time. Still, at least the film avoids the poo and fart jokes that are normally a staple of this sort of thing.

Worth seeing?
Zookeeper isn't quite as bad as it could have been, but that's not really saying very much and it remains painfully low on laughs.

Film Trailer

Zookeeper (PG)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 00:56

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