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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 Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog A hero isn’t someone born with unconquerable strength and selflessness. Heroes are not formed in a cataclysmic instant. Heroism is developed over time, one decision after another, moment by moment, formed by a deliberate, chosen, and habitual response to life.

The Passion and the Cross Ronald Rolheiser

 
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