Directed by: Frank Coraci
Produced by: Todd Garner
Screenplay by: Nick Bakay
Story by: Jay Scherick
Starring: Kevin James
Steffiana De La Cruz
Voices by: Sylvester Stallone
Music by: Rupert Gregson-Williams
Cinematography by: Michael Barrett
Editing by: Scott Hill
Happy Madison Productions
Distributed by: Colombia Pictures
Release date(s): July 8, 2011 (United States)
July 29, 2011 (United Kingdom)
Running time: 104 minutes
Country: United States
Budget: $80 million
Box office revenue (as of publication): $131, 997, 000
Allo, allo, allo. Me again, as per usual. I watched Pixar's Cars for the first time tonight and found myself really enjoying it. A lot of people get on top of Cars as being one of the more lackluster of Pixar's films, but I found it highly entertaining and yes it looks the anthropomorphism that one can find in their previous films, but I still empathised with the characters. Also, tractor-tipping looks pretty damn hilarious. Finally, I plan on going to see either Sarah's Key or Super 8 today, so keeps your eyes open for an upcoming review on either or both.
So, today we have Zookeeper on our hands, the new Kevin James movie. For those of you who don't follow the blog, me and Kevin James have a bit of a chequered history. He starred in 2009's hit comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop, a film I intensely disliked, as well as last year's hit comedy Grown Ups, one of my five candidates last year for worst film of the year. Saying that, James did star in Hitch, a film that is by no means perfect, but I did like, in which he and his character were actually funny. I'd be lying if I said I had a completely open mind going into it, as Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions always seem to saddle Kevin James with terrible projects, so I went into Zookeeper frankly bracing myself for the worst.
Say what you will about Kevin James, and I'll be the first to say it as I don't think he is particularly funny, he does have a likeable screen presence, it's just a shame that he has to play up the likeable goofball so much. Also, there are glimpses of his potential as a performer, although the film takes no time to indulge in this. Some of the voice cast do some amusing vocal acting. Sylvester Stallone's proud lion that has a lot of deep insecurities raises a few smirks, and Adam Sandler's bezerk turn as a monkey that teases a crow by sarcastically suggesting that children might say "Mommy, I want to see a crow." Don Rickles also makes an appearance, but in a far-too-short capacity. The gorilla suit in the film is done very well, as Kermode would say, and the production design for the zoo looks spot on.
That's it. At least, that would be it if I didn't have to tell you how godawfully bad Zookeeper is. To start off, the opening scene that sets us up with all the context of Griffin Keyes (trust James to play a character called Griffin) is terrible. It is neither funny or tragic, the awkwardness that is intentionally there failing to come across appropriately in either manner. Also, it is the lowest form of comedy. Ken Jeong makes his appearance's yet again doing the same old schtick and I'm getting more and more annoyed with him every time I see him. The script also doesn't help, as it is really, really poor. For starters, much of the gags are not particularly funny and have either been done a million times before and/or are the lowest form of comedy. I know he wrote part of the script, but I really am waiting for the time when Kevin James let's someone defecate on his chest for a gag, because to see him bouncing around like a bear in this film is simply embarrassingly bad, and he still seems like he is holding back some! Also, some of the animals are annoying, such as Judd Apatow's elephant that really needs to shut up, and the mouthes don't even move in sync with the voices. Furthermore, the film is unbelievably predictable. I felt like Nostradamus I was so far ahead of this movie. James receiving life lessons from the animals is silly, and his character is a terrible arc of 'learning' and that old favourite 'going on a journey.' No spoilers or anything, but I predicted the movie's ending less than ten minutes into the film, the applause of onlookers, and of course the animal's must have a terrible, terrible singalong to More Than A Feeling during the credits. Speaking of music, the soundtrack of songs selected for the film is rubbish and so goddamn populist that once again The Thin White Nostradudeus was able to predict some songs for the scenes. A full on forehead slap occurred when I saw the name Rupert Gregson-Williams as the composer for the film, as the composition was as bad the soundtrack, and I couldn't help but think of the great work of his brother Harry rather longingly. Finally, Zookeeper is a movie that is clearly not meant to be taken seriously, so it is rather annoying whenever it decides to parade around the idea that is something more to this movie than Kevin James falling on his ass. I have no problem watching a fat guy fall on his ass, I am a Laurel And Hardy fan after all, but Stan never turned to Ollie and said "Hey, Ollie, I think there's more to this than you falling over and my lack of brains." Twenty-five minutes into Zookeeper, I was thoroughly nauseated, and actually felt myself wanting walk out, something that I have never done in my time as a reviewer.
To be fair on the film, it is not as bad as Swinging With The Finkels, my current worst film of the year. It lacks the obscene pretension and pseudo-intellectual upturned attitude of that flick. However, excepting some good vocal performances, production design and a couple of glimpses of James' potential as an actor, it an all-round grotesque piece of work. Just look at the poster: now tell me, if that isn't one of the worst poster's in film history, I will eat my own shoe.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 2.4/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Furious (having woke up late and having so little time to do things, stuck reminiscing on Zookeeper)
P.S. This movie cost $80 million to make. What the fuck? The Hangover Part II cost the same, and while it is a bad movie, at least I can see where that money went!