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Zookeeper: Movie Review

Chris Carpenter


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Kevin James has certainly had his share of ‘everyman’ roles since his nine-season stint as Doug Heffernan on The King of Queens. From Paul Blart: Mall Cop to his recent role as a partner in an auto design firm in The Dilemma, James has a knack for making people like him despite the absurdity of his circumstances. His latest cinematic effort is no different.

In Zookeeper, James plays Griffin Keyes, a kind-hearted animal caretaker at the Franklin Park Zoo (near Boston) who has given up on love due to a colossal failed engagement proposal five years earlier. Griffin has discovered that he finds more comfort in caring for the animals than he does in the company of a lady. Fearful that he will never find the love of his life in his current occupation, he makes plans to leave the zoo for a more glamorous job.

Enter the talking animals. Fearful that they will lose their trusted friend, the zoo creatures decide to break their code of silence and reveal to Griffin that they can talk. They implore him to stay, promising the stocky zookeeper they will teach him the rules of courtship. Let the hijinks begin!

Filled with slapstick and pratfalls that will keep kids laughing throughout, Griffin happily subjects himself to porcupine quills stuck in his face, goes on a reckless bicycle ride through the streets of Boston, and splits his pants while trying to impress a girl at a wedding reception. He does all of this in the name of finding true love.

Along the way, Griffin is subjected to the many life lessons provided by the talking birds and beasts. The menagerie includes: a surly gorilla with a heart of gold (voiced by Nick Nolte), a fast talking monkey obsessed with potty humor (voiced by Adam Sandler), a gruff, egotistical lion (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), and his mate, a no-nonsense lioness (voiced by Cher).

Griffin quickly realizes that sometimes you find friends in the unlikeliest of people – or in this case, lions, tigers, and monkeys.

Tantamount to his quest for love is the friendship Griffin develops with the misunderstood gorilla. Segregated from the general public for allegedly attacking another zoo worker (Donnie Wahlberg) many years ago, the gorilla finds solace in encouraging the forlorn Griffin with his hard-earned animal wisdom and a joyride through the city that culminates in a trip to TGI Fridays!

In the end, Griffin must decide who he would rather be romantically involved with: Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), a self-centered, fashion conscious model or Kate (Rosario Dawson), a brainy yet down to earth zoo veterinarian.

Zookeeper has just enough of an adult-themed storyline to keep the grownups interested even though it is clearly a kids movie. Positioned as a family film about friendship and making the right choices in life, Zookeeper succeeds on some levels. It delivers a wonderful message of determining who your true friends really are and that you should not try to be someone or something you are not just to please others.

Despite these aforementioned sentiments, viewers should be warned of several jokes related to animal excrement and private parts of the human anatomy. In addition, fresh from his appearance in The Hangover 2, Ken Jeong appears as a drugged-out reptile expert for comic relief. People will undoubtedly laugh at his performance but for all the wrong reasons.

While nothing is really that plausible or realistic, Zookeeper is a kid-friendly romantic comedy filled with slapstick and sincerity. I just wish it would have avoided the bathroom humor.

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About The Author


Chris Carpenter is the program director for, the official website of the Christian Broadcasting Network. He also serves as executive producer for myCBN Weekend, an Internet exclusive webcast show seen on In addition to his regular duties, Chris writes extensively for the website. Over the years, he has interviewed many notable entertainers, athletes, and politicians including Oscar winners Matthew McConaughy and Reese Witherspoon, evangelist Franklin Graham, author Max Lucado, Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy and former presidential hopefuls Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mike