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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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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, please fill my heart and soul with the confidence that you will always provide what I need, when I need it, and let me be obedient to you.

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