Picture from Zookeeper
Overall C+

A bumbling zookeeper (Kevin James) gets a rude awakening when his animal charges start talking to him, hoping to offer him relationship advice.

Violence B-
Sexual Content B-
Profanity B-
Substance Use C+

MPAA Rating: PG for some rude and suggestive humor, and language.

Zookeeper

I can almost imagine this film’s concept meeting with a bunch of screenplay writers sitting around a table throwing out ideas:

“Let’s set the story in a zoo and make our main character a kindhearted but sort of hopeless romantic who runs into things and falls down a lot.”

“But make him a bit of an awkward social misfit whose only real friends are the animals he takes care of.”

“Yah, yah and when he tries to win the girl of his dreams, the animals can give him advice on mating rituals.”

“Like marking his territory.”

“Ha, ha, and we could have him urinate in a potted plant at a fancy restaurant.”

“Yah, yah and there could be a monkey who makes all these jokes about throwing poop and a gorilla who chokes the main character until he passes out. It’ll be so funny!”

Well, it’s not always so funny.

Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) is that main character whose girlfriend (Leslie Bibb) refuses his marriage proposal because he is, of all horrid things, a zookeeper. (She’d much prefer he work as a car salesman.) Brokenhearted, the Franklin Park Zoo’s head employee spends the next five years commiserating over his lost love while the rest of us can’t figure out what he sees in the shallow blonde.

When Stephanie next shows up at a zoo event, half a decade later, Griffin becomes so tongue-tied he can barely manage a hello. Yet he determines not to let her get away again. Worried that he’ll leave his job to pursue his love, the zoo occupants decide to intervene and help him win her over—wild style. (And why shouldn’t audiences believe a chubby character that lumbers around like a bear and pees in public is the kind of man every woman is looking for.)

From the get-go, the clunky script gallops along, seemingly unconcerned about the lack of a coherent story line and suffering from cumbersome editing. It crams in physical gags, a pair of bickering bears, sexual innuendo and animal groaners that aren’t always easy to understand despite the famous voices delivering them. (Nick Nolte, Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, Cher, Jud Apatow, Maya Rudolph, Faizon Love and Jon Favreau are some of the featured talent.)

Lacking all the charm of the critters in Babe or Charlotte’s Web, these talking beasts and their fumbling human caretaker likely won’t endear themselves to either children or the parents who have to accompany them on this stinky outing to visit the Zookeeper and his menagerie.