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DVD Review: Zookeeper

October 11, 2011

Zookeeper – A Sony Pictures’ Release

DVD Release Date: October 11th, 2011

Rated G for some crude humour and mild language

Running time: 102 minutes

Frank Coraci (dir.)

Nick Bakay (screenplay)

Rock Reuben (screenplay)

Kevin James (screenplay

Jay Scherick (screenplay)

David Ronn (screenplay)

Rupert Gregson-Williams (music)

Kevin James as Griffin Keyes

Rosario Dawson as Kate

Leslie Bibb as Stephanie

Nick Nolte as Bernie the Gorilla (voice)

Our reviews below:


Zookeeper DVD Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

When Griffin (Kevin James) suggests leaving his job as a zookeeper so that he can win back his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), the animals start talking at night in order to help their beloved keeper get the girl and not quit his job.  If the animals can get him to stay at the zoo, then he might just notice that the girl of his dreams is right in front of him in the form of a veterinarian, Kate (Rosario Dawson).  But as it turns out, the mating rules in the animal kingdom both are and aren’t good ideas in the human dating world.

Although many chose to criticize Zookeeper, this is a film that plays at the exact level we can expect from the amusing premise.  The scene where Griffin takes Bernie the Gorilla (voice of Nick Nolte) to a restaurant is by far the funniest sequence in the movie.  The whole thing is silly and sometimes juvenile, but I still laughed in spite of myself.  Kids of a certain age, as well as those who enjoy talking animals and the charming comedic stylings of Kevin James will likely find themselves suitably entertained by the breezy Zookeeper.

The Blu-ray includes numerous ‘behind the scenes’ featurettes, including a particularly fascinating one on the creation of the gorilla costume.


Zookeeper DVD Review by Erin V.  

**1/2 (out of 4)

In Zookeeper, Kevin James plays Griffin, lead zookeeper for the Franklin Park Zoo.  In a short flashback opening, we see him dumped by his girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), and five years later he still hasn’t gotten over it.  One night, the animals (who can all talk) decide that they should help him get his ‘mate’ back, and make a plan.  But when things go wrong, they break the number one animal rule.  Don’t talk to humans.  Once Griffin knows the animals can talk, he realizes that they might actually be able to help him, and he starts taking their dating advice, making for some very funny and awkward situations.  In particular, Griffin befriends Bernie (voice of Nick Nolte), the big gorilla that mistrusts humans because of an incident years prior.  The whole thing is very predictable, but the road from beginning to end is fun for families to enjoy.

In the vein on the Night at the Museum movies, Zookeeper actually entertains.  Many of the scenes that seemed like they would just be really bad in the trailer, actually work in the context of the movie.  You do just have to go along with the ride though, because what you see is what you get.  It is really stupid at times, but at the same time it’s really funny.  If you are looking for a light rental comedy, this one is worth checking out.


Zookeeper DVD Review By Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

What if animals could speak like us?  Many films have toyed with this idea, and Zookeeper is one of those films where talking animals and live action work well together.  Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) is a beloved zookeeper at the Franklin Park Zoo.  He loves his job, but has one problem.  Five years ago, his girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb) broke up with him because she didn’t want to date a nerdy zookeeper.  So Griffin’s animal friends decide to reveal their nightly secret.  They can leave their enclosures and best of all, they talk.  The animals give him tips on how to get Stephanie back, and veterinarian Kate (Rosario Dawson) decides to help Griffin with his relationship problems as well.  Griffin now must make decisions as to what he wants to do with his life.

Zookeeper is one kids movie that any age can enjoy.  The talking animals are charming, not annoying, with believable lip syncing animation.  They are all combinations of animation and live action, except for an ostrish and the gorilla, who are CGI or animatronic combined with people in suits*.  The scenes with Bernie the Gorilla are some of the funniest and sweetest.  In fact, all of the animals, as well as Griffin, Stephanie and Kate are charming.  Zookeeper is a delightfully silly and sweet comedy that the entire family can enjoy.

*Bernie the Gorilla is a shining example of how puppets and costumes can be used in place of apes on film sets.  Gorillas can’t legally be loaned out to film sets, so no real gorillas were used.  Bernie’s storyline speaks out against the use of bullhooks, a firepoker shaped tool that can be used as a weapon.  I was disappointed to see the elephant trainer holding what may have been a bullhook in one of the special features.  However, the AHA was on set, and they approved the film.  See the AHA website for more details on the training methods used on set, which were humane, positive reinforcement techniques.  Hopefully though all exotic animals in film will be replaced with prosthetics and CGI in the near future.


Zookeeper DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Who knew the zoo could be so much fun.  Funnyman Kevin James plays Griffin, a zookeeper with a big heart, especially when it comes to the talking animals in his care.  The one area where he isn’t having much success is his love life.  Dumped by his girlfriend, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), Griffin feels that a different job outside the zoo would win her back.  So his furry friends decide to help him with relationship advice so he can win back the girl without leaving the zoo.

The interactions between Griffin and his talking animal friends are both silly and sweet.  There’s enough slapstick humour to keep kids entertained and grown-ups mildly amused.  Particularly charming is Bernie the Gorilla (voiced by Nick Nolte) who teaches Griffin what friendship is all about.  In the end, he realizes the animals are his true friends and that he had a true human friendship all along at the zoo with pretty veterinarian, Kate (Rosario Dawson).

With a mix of real animals, suit actors, puppetry and CGI the animals are believably amusing.  The voice cast is strong (including Cher, Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, etc.) and Kevin James is sweetly funny.  Zookeeper isn’t a brilliant movie by any means, but it does provide 102 minutes of mindless fun.


Zookeeper DVD Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Zookeeper is the latest comedy from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison company, promising loads of laughs in a sweet and predictable story that the whole family can enjoy. Kevin James is the title character Griffin, whose love for the animals in Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo is returned when they intervene to get him back with former girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb). Letting Griffin in on their ability to understand and speak English fondly recalls (mule) Francis from the 40s and (horse) Mr. Ed from the 50s. This works here because the good script is carried by a fine human and animal cast including the voices of (gorilla) Nick Nolte, (monkey) Adam Sandler, (lion) Sylvester Stallone, (lioness) Cher, (elephant) Judd Apatow, (bears) Jon Favreau and Faizon Love, (giraffe) Maya Rudolph, and (frog) Don Rickles.

The disk includes some interesting featurettes about the animals. Except for the gorilla, the animals are real, having lips moving in the traditional Francis/Mr. Ed way, with the additional challenge that the incompatibility of the various animals required separate shots edited together. Bernie the gorilla uses two different men in gorilla suits, a taller one for upper body shots and a shorter one with arm extenders for the walking shots. Bernie’s facial expressions are animatronic, successfully bucking the recent motion capture technology used in the latest Planet of the Apes and other films. Indeed, some of the  funniest and most touching scenes involve Griffin and Bernie taking the zoo van out for a night on the town. Finally, the score from Rupert (not to be confused with older brother Harry) Gregson-Williams provides a fine backdrop for all the comic action.


Consensus: With a charming performance from Kevin James and a likeable all-star cast of talking animals, Zookeeper is a silly but surprisingly sweet comedy that those of any age can enjoy.  **1/2 (Out of 4)

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