Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Movie Review: "Zookeeper"

This review comes to you by request from my friend A. You know who you are. ^_^

What did I think of this movie? Well...
There were a few things that really, really bugged me, and kept me from enjoying this movie. In this post, I will give you my reasons for not liking "Zookeeper", and then I will list the few redeeming values that this movie has. Please take my review with a grain of salt, my opinions are my own and nobody has the obligation to share them.

First of all, I came into the theater with the expectation that it couldn't possibly be as lousy as the trailer made it out to be. It's happened to me before that a movie that had horrible trailers actually turned out to be a film I highly enjoyed, like "Arthur", the remake with Russel Brand. Also I'd read on the blog of Leonard Maltin (famous movie historian and reviewer) that he thought "Zookeeper" was pretty good. (To see what I mean, click on this link: Leonard Maltin's "Zookeeper" review.)

Anyway, when my family went to the theater to see it, we were unfortunately a little late, so we missed the opening scene and came in at a part where Kevin James is putting his hand up a lioness's mouth in order to reach a lodged Red-Bull can stuck in her throat.
Lovely; the audience gets gross-out humor and product placement.

Basically the premise of this movie is a romantic plot we've heard somewhere before, "mild-mannered guy tries getting ex-girlfriend back by becoming something he's not, only to realize that being himself is what makes him happy and he falls in love with his best friend", with the "hilarious twist" of talking zoo-animals. They try and give Kevin James' character advice on how to win back the girl, and incredibly, even though the things they tell him to do are totally ridiculous, they seem to work.

One of the things that really, really bugged me was the casting choices for the animals' voices (hey, a rhyme ^_^). When I see talking animals, I expect voices that match the animals themselves somewhat, not just a bunch of celebrities thrown at a microphone. I'll admit, some voices were good, like Nick Nolte's silver-back gorilla and Cher's lovely lioness, but other voices just grated on my ears, like Adam Sandler's wise-cracking Capuchin monkey, and Judd Apatow's nervous and neurotic elephant.

Another thing that kept me from giving the movie a thumbs-up was the fact that my suspension of disbelief was constantly being betrayed. When I go to movies like this, sure I expect there to be some crazy stuff, but there has to be good reason for it. Take for instance the fact that the animals keep their talking abilities a secret at first, because humans would freak out if they ever found out. But then in the very next scene after this is revealed, the lion flat out breaks the rule and starts talking to Kevin James, who then proceeds to have a "freaking-out montage". What the hey, movie?! Didn't you just tell us that animal-human communications was a big no-no?

One last minor detail I had against this film was the indecisive background music. This is a matter of personal taste, but I like soundtracks to be more-or-less consistent throughout the movie, not just have random contemporary popular songs with a few manipulative orchestral movements that tried to make me feel sorry for Kevin James' character here, and then happy for him there.

Despite it all, I can still see why people enjoyed this movie. Here are some bullet-points of "Zookeeper"s redeeming values:

  • It's full of slap-stick, which means easy, uninhibited laughs.

  • Kevin James is a pretty likable actor and his character goes through some real development.

  • The kids in the audience seemed to get a real kick out of the talking animals.

  • The running time is only an hour and a half, so you don't have to wait too long for it to be over.

All in all, I would say if you can help it, don't go to see this movie, unless you have some kids watching with you. Sorry Kevin James. I love ya, but I don't like "Zookeeper".