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Thursday, July 21, 2011 09:07 am

Zookeeper is simplistic entertainment

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I equate Kevin James’ movies with the old Abbott and Costello features I used to watch on TV when I was a kid. Even at a young age, I knew they weren’t great movies but they made me laugh now and again and at the time, that was enough. That’s how I approached James’ latest, Zookeeper, a simplistic comedy that finds the genial comic as Griffin, who can relate to the animals he cares for, but is nothing but tongue-tied around Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), a woman who can kill a romantic moment with the same viciousness a cheetah applies to a wildebeest. Witness how she mangles Griffin’s elaborate wedding proposal at the film’s start and you can tell she shows no mercy where getting what she wants is concerned.

Unbeknownst to Griffin, his zoo animal friends have taken an interest in mending his broken heart and want to help him win Stephanie back. However, this means they have to break their most sacred rule and speak directly to him, something Joe the Lion (voice by Sylvester Stallone) warns them against. Ah, but caution is thrown to the wind and soon Janet the lioness (Cher), bears Jerome and Bruce (Jon Favreau and Faizon Love) and Donald the monkey (Adam Sandler) are giving him pointers, which Griffin accepts after overcoming his initial shock. Of course, he should have been a bit more discerning in applying all of the advice he gets: peeing to mark his territory when his rival shows up doesn’t go over well.

Surprisingly, talking animals aren’t the most outlandish element in the film. No, it’s the fact that a woman like Griffin’s co-worker Kate (the stunning Rosario Dawson) would be attracted to him. The actress is game in the role as she convinces us that Griffin is worth giving up a job in Nairobi once he comes to his senses. Talk about your suspension of disbelief…

In the end, Zookeeper is made about as well as a movie of this sort can be. And, as stupid as it is, it made my son and I laugh more than a few times, especially when Donald shares his advice with Griffin, which, believe it or not, is worse than that of marking his territory.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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