Zookeeper - 2 out of 5
I guess the mall was too much for Paul Blart because he's now a zookeeper.
Even James looks embarrassed to be in this film.
Imagine all the jokes you would expect from seeing funnyman Kevin James as a zookeeper and then he finds out that all animals can talk and, despite whatever nation they originated from, can speak perfect English. Alright, have you got all the jokes in your head? Now, let me tell you that there is a 90% chance that you predicted all the jokes correctly.
Wait a second--Is that one of The New Kids on the Block in Zookeeper?!?
There was a time when I would call myself a Kevin James fan. His stand up comedy is terrific and he had a fantastically funny sitcom. However, it seems that once The King of Queens ended and he allied himself with Adam Sandler, his career has taken a very definitive curve--and that curve is in, my opinion, straight down. The genuine laughs I got from the situations he got into on his show have been replaced with groans from the cliche and predictable gags that his cookie cutter films produce. Films like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and Grown Ups have done nothing but showcase little-no-laughs as it delivers pathetically predictable material and storylines. Zookeeper is just another notch on his belt of cliches. The sad part is that Kevin James has the ability to be a leading man in a decent comedy. I realize that Adam Sandler has stopped trying but does he have to force this life decision on all his friends too?
It seems for the price of a sandwich, you can get Ken Jeong in your movie.
Zookeeper is a comedy that even children will be hard pressed to enjoy. The story is pretty simple but, mysteriously, adds in a sloppy B-story that is so quickly resolved that you wonder if the filmmakers lost that page of the script in the mail and decided to just slap something together and film it. The story's emphasis is on the animals trying to help James' character get back his love interest (played by Leslie Bibb) because they believe if he's happy, he'll remain at the zoo. Now, some viewers may get upset over seeing the thin and beautiful Bibb be the girlfriend of the chubby, funny guy but it's a movie, not reality. Hot chicks being attracted to funny guys never happens in real life. (Trust me, I'm a funny fat guy.) Like all other films James has been in, his natural likeability is wasted on gags that include getting kicked in the nuts and having him fall over. The only real thing I ended up enjoying from this film was the inclusion of some great actors portraying the voices of the animals. Sure you have to deal with the obnoxious voice acting of Adam Sandler as a monkey, Judd Apatow as an elephant with an eating disorder and Maya Rudolph as a giraffe but the rest can be quite a shiny light in an otherwise dismal film.
Nick Nolte plays this gorilla and I'm fairly certain he did it without make-up or a costume.
Sly Stallone and Cher do well as a lion and his mate and Jim Bruer (has he done a movie since Half-Baked?!?) is funny as a crow who is ostracized for not actually being a zoo animal. But the true highlights go to Jon Favreau as a bear and Don Rickles as a frog. Why do they get special attention? Because they're Jon Favreau and Don "Fucking" Rickles!!! However, besides the choice in voice casting and some decent special effects that succeeds in making the animals look like they are actually talking, Zookeeper is a passerby, not even worth stopping for unless you are really, REALLY bored.