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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Zookeeper

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Kevin James stars in the movie "Zookeeper."
We have it on the authority of Simon and Garfunkel that "it's all happening at the zoo." Unfortunately, not much of any consequence—or entertainment value—transpires within the confines of the scattershot, sometimes earthy comedy "Zookeeper" (Columbia/MGM).

In fact, neither director Frank Coraci nor anybody else involved in this ill-matched crossbreeding of romance and fantasy seems certain whether it's intended to be fish or fowl, and so it succeeds in being neither. Too mushy—and occasionally too mature—for kids, this Kevin James vehicle is too sloppy to satisfy their discerning elders.

James, who also co-wrote the script, plays Griffin Keyes, a likable schlub whose enthusiasm for his work as an attendant at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo helps blunt the pain of his empty personal life.

As we learn from the opening scene, five years ago, Griffin suffered a terrible humiliation when Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), his girlfriend, broke up with him just as he was down on one knee proposing to her.

Flash forward to the present where, for no very apparent reason, a family wedding brings Stephanie back into the mix. Still smitten, Griffin wonders aloud if he should quit his job to win Stephanie back.

The mere mention of such a possibility sends Griffin's four-legged, furred and feathered friends into a panic as a result of which we discover—as Griffin himself does soon after—that they speak fluent human.

The first few minutes of their dialogue are amusing enough, since the personalities they now display range from a soul-sister giraffe (voice of Maya Rudolph) to a comically kibitzing yiddisher monkey (voice of Adam Sandler).

We're also eventually introduced to a temporarily depressed but fun-loving gorilla (voice of Nick Nolte) who becomes Griffin's boon companion on a kick-over-the-traces evening at—and extended commercial for—T.G.I. Friday's.

As Griffin becomes the recipient of "Wild Kingdom"-style mating advice from the animals, things take a less-than-family-friendly turn. Under the tutelage of the zoo's resident wolf, for instance, Griffin tries to "mark his territory," but is suddenly interrupted by his colleague Kate (Rosario Dawson) who—amid his frantic fumbling—gets an unwanted eyeful.

At another point, a duo of bears urges Griffin to walk in such a way as to draw attention to what they refer to as his "pudding cup."

Meanwhile we wait for Griffin to catch on to the fact, long since surmised by viewers, that the gal he ought to be pursuing is not materialistic Stephanie (with whom, however, we see that he has not only reconciled but also shacked up). Rather, of course, it's caring, animal-loving, bright-as-a-button Kate.

Despite the elements listed below, "Zookeeper," while not suitable for children, is probably acceptable for mature teens.

The film contains cohabitation, brief implied frontal nudity, some scatological and restrained sexual humor and a couple of mildly crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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