003778Reviews & Counting
BLU-RAY disk
11.01.2011 By: Jason Adams
Zookeeper order download
Frank Coraci

Kevin James
Rosario Dawson
Adam Sandler


star Printer-Friendly version
HITCH, except with animals instead of Will Smith.
ZOOKEEPER is a great movie to test and see if your kids are assholes. If they laugh, they have terrible taste in humor and film and you should probably return them from whence they came. If they cry and complain about how unfunny and painful it is, then congratulations…you have passed on good genetic material. Dare I say it, this might be worse than anything Rob Schneider’s done. I mean, there's a scene in this family comedy where Kevin James pees on a live wolf and you're expected to laugh.

What on Earth could precipitate the "King of Queens" star soaking a woodland creature in his own urine? Love, of course! I wasn't kidding; this really is like HITCH—a terrible romantic comedy more than a terrible kids movie. This time, instead of Will Smith, Kevin James is so functionally retarded he has to receive social training from different species to woo the woman he loves. He's so desperate for advice that he almost immediately gets over the fact that they're freaking talking animals and starts doing exactly what they say. This includes such great ideas as the aforementioned marking of territory, herding women like cattle, displaying your "pudding cup" while walking like a bear, attacking competing suitors like a frog and of course riding an ostrich until it dies.

To accomplish this, producer Sandler and longtime director pal Frank Coraci clearly called in all their favors for what is one of the most hodgepodge voice casts ever assembled. There's Sylvester Stallone and Cher as a bickering married lion couple, JoBlo house DJ Jon Favreau and Faizon Love as a pair of grizzly bears who poop in each other's water bowls, Sandler himself as a capuchin monkey obsessed with bodily functions, comedy legend Don Rickles as a bullfrog, Nick Nolte as an abused gorilla, and Judd Apatow as an elephant. (Apatow gives Adam Sandler FUNNY PEOPLE, Sandler gives him this.) And what about the humans? The film also stars a Wahlberg brother and Ken Jeong, who continues his quest to be in every movie that will pay him in cash as a pervy reptile expert named Venom. But it's poor, poor Rosario Dawson whose inclusion boggles the mind the most. First Dante in CLERKS II, now Kevin James in this. Does Dawson not realize how hot she is, or is she just giving false hope to her nerdy fanbase? Because if all it takes to get her in bed is to do a dance on some flying scarves, I'm pretty sure I could do a better job than Kevin James.

The stupidest part of a movie comprised entirely of stupidity, however, is the subplot with Bernie the physically abused gorilla. How's this for your family film: as soon as they reveal they can talk, the animals tell James that one of his employees mistreats them on a daily basis, feeding them rotten food and stabbing them with a nail taped to a stick. Kevin James admits he had no idea this was happening and then proceeds to DO NOTHING ABOUT IT FOR THE REST OF THE MOVIE. Instead, the zookeeper befriends Bernie, who has been put in solitary confinement for years thanks to the bad man, and takes him to T.G.I. Fridays to make up for it…but still lets the asshole work at the zoo and endanger the animal populace. At one point, as part of the film's inane romantic plot, James actually quits his job, leaving the evil zookeeper in charge to further terrorize the animals. When he predictably returns in the end, the gorilla is a battered housewife with a black eye…but hey, it's okay because James promised to take him to happy hour at Friday's again! Problem solved!

Aside from all the bizarre product placement (the animal cruelty-T.G.I. Friday subplot, Kevin James pulling a Red Bull can out of a choking lion's throat), the other part worth mentioning is the ending, which is a cliché "race to beat the girl to the airport" sequence…except this version involves Kevin James kidnapping a gorilla and traveling by ostrich, car, kayak and monkey to stop her just in the nick of time. Then all the animals sing Boston’s "More Than a Feeling" and I hope this movie dies in a fire.
This Combo Pack comes with the film on Blu-Ray, as well as DVD, so you can torture your kids in two video formats. The special features are generic fluff.

Deleted Scenes (11:43): These are more extended and alternate takes than deleted scenes. There's a bit more of Ken Jeong's reptile wrangler and Rosario Dawson's romantic interest, but nothing worth more of your time.

Laughing is Contagious (5:55): This gag reels shows that a) working with animals is fun, and b) Kevin James seems to think he's funny.

The Cast of ZOOKEEPER (8:30): Typical PR interviews with the cast and crew about working together. There's a fair number of funny people involved, just not on screen.

The Furry Co-Stars (6:22): Meet the animal cast and hear the actors discuss how predictably difficult it is to work with living creatures, no matter how funny or cute they are.

Bernie the Gorilla (7:13): See the trials and tribulations of dismantling Nick Nolte and turning him in to a robot gorilla!

Creating the Visual Effects: Probably the only special feature of any kind of substance, this three-part series is still only about 10 minutes total and covers how the made the animals "talk," creating a digital ostrich and other high tech wizardry.

Behind the Stunts (5:22): A look at some of the stunt work and how Kevin James hurts himself.

Be the Bear (1:38): A brief clip of Kevin James preparing to deal with wild bears.

Trailers, a playable PS3 Demo for Ratchet and Krank and a Movie IQ trivia track.
Don't watch this movie. Please, just don't do it.

Extra Tidbit: Roger Ebert gave this movie three out of four stars. I don't understand what's happened to him lately.
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