* Prices may differ from that shown
As I've mentioned a couple of times recently we are quite big fans of Kevin James in our house. He is amongst a group of actors whose appearance in comedies usually sees the films added to our too watch list. The fact that the film, as usual with James's movies recently, came from Adam Sandler's Happy Madison production company and featured Sandler as a Monkey also added to the appeal. Of course the number of good films with animals that talk are very few and far between, but I hoped that given the James and Sandler combination this one would work.
Having prepared a romantic proposal for his girlfriend, Griffin Keyes is crushed when she not only rejects him, but dumps him as well. Now 5 years later and Griffin is back to his old confident self and has recently been made head Zookeeper. Following a chance meeting with his ex-girlfriend Stephanie he decides he needs to leave the Zoo to win her back. The animals though don't want him to leave and decide to break their vow of not talking to humans to help Griffin win his ex back without leaving them.
A Happy Madison Production
It would seem that Kevin James has slotted perfectly into the Happy Madison production set up. He has become a regular star of the company's movies and gives them a second outlet alongside Adam Sandler. This time he links up with Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci, a regular Adam Sandler collaborator. He does everything he need to do with this movie well. The special effects work really well and the animal's really do interact with James's character well. He has some interesting ideas but his work behind the camera is pretty similar to all of these style of movies.
The script is a collaboration between 5 writers including star of the piece Kevin James. Once again James has managed to ensure that the lead role is the perfect fit for him. It works to his strengths and with a number of writers around him they have managed to come up with a funny, if not particularly original plot. Whilst there is nothing particularly original about the movie it does have its funnier moments and if you like any of the other films with Kevin James in the lead role then this will not disappoint.
All Star Vocals
With Kevin James having written a part for himself in the lead role it was fair to say that his performance would be good enough, after all he'd written a part that really worked to his strengths as an actor. The real test was for his co-stars and straight away I felt that Leslie Bibb was a poor choice as Stephanie. There was no chemistry between her and James, which just left the romance between the pair feeling empty and unbelievable. Thankfully with Rosario Dawson as Griffin's co-worker and alternative romantic interest at least there was a saving grace. I thought there was far more chemistry between James and Dawson from the beginning than he had with Bibb.
The real key to this film was from the animals and with a number of stars providing vocals it made the film a little more amusing. Whether it was Adam Sandler voicing Donald the Monkey or Sylvester Stallone providing his dating wisdom as Joe the Lion. There are a whole host of stars but the emphasis and star of the piece is Nick Nolte as Bernie The Gorilla. On the whole the concept of the film works well and the director gets the animals personalities matched with the right type of vocal, but the problem is it's all been done before.
Amusing But Nothing New
Now whilst it would be fair to say that I did really enjoy Zookeeper, it was a bit of a repeat of other animal based films. The plot isn't particularly original and neither is the comedy, but as long as your expectations aren't too high and you aren't expecting the world's funniest film then you will enjoy it. There is a good mixture of romance and comedy in the film and I think its fair to say that if you like Kevin James, Adam Sandler and any of their previous work then there is something in Zookeeper that you will enjoy. My only advice however would be to rent or wait till it's on TV as this is very much a onetime watch kind of film.