* * * ½ (Kids)
* * ½ (Adults)
(Romantic comedy with talking animals)
Zookeeper is a pleasant, harmless romantic comedy that is aimed at the younger set with its talking animals but made palatable for their parents with its love story.
Kevin James stars as Griffin, the head zookeeper at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo. In a funny opening scene, he is dumped by his girlfriend (Leslie Bibb). She shows up five years later and he tries to win her over again, blowing every opportunity and finally getting a little help and advice from his closest friends, the animals at the zoo. Ironically, his perfect mate, the zoo's veterinarian (Rosario Dawson) is right under his nose.
In one funny scene, the animals break their sacred code and talk to a human. They all like the kindly zookeeper and want to help him get the girl. The kids will love the talking animals, especially the capuchin monkey who feels superior because he has thumbs (voice of Adam Sandler). The lion and lioness (Sylvester Stallone and Cher) have some funny banter going, which the adults will enjoy.
An interesting side story revolves around a gorilla (Nick Nolte) who has been abused by another zookeeper and will have nothing to do with man or beast. The compassionate Griffin wins him over, and in another funny scene takes him to TGIFridays.
Good lessons for the kids about treating animals kindly, and for the adults about the grass isn't always greener. James does some pretty silly and stupid pratfalls, which the kids loved and the parents groaned at. Stay for the credits and some good outtakes. Rated PG, with some minor bathroom humor and language.