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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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Martha: Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death. 
<p>No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner. </p><p>Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “...[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a). </p><p>Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).</p> American Catholic Blog One of the difficulties we may have when our lives become unmanageable is that we find dealing with other people to be difficult and we may even struggle to maintain a relationship with God. Caring people especially can find themselves carrying unnecessary crosses as they become lost in the maze of trying to meet everyone’s crazy expectations—including their own!

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