Movie Review

Zookeeper

MPAA Rating: PG for some rude and suggestive humor, and language.

Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Teens Family
Genre:
Family Romance Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
2011
USA Release:
July 8, 2011 (wide—3,300+ theaters)
DVD: October 11, 2011
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures

animals in the Bible

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Featuring: Kevin JamesGriffin Keyes
Rosario DawsonKate
Leslie Bibb … Stephanie
Ken JeongVenom
Donnie WahlbergShane
Nick NolteBernie the Gorilla (voice)
Adam SandlerDonald the Monkey (voice)
Sylvester StalloneJoe the Lion (voice)
Cher … Janet the Lioness (voice)
Judd ApatowBarry the Elephant (voice)
Jon FavreauJerome the Bear (voice)
more »
Director: Frank Coraci—“Click,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” “The Waterboy,” “The Wedding Singer
Producer: Broken Road Productions
Columbia Pictures
Happy Madison Productions
Hey Eddie
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Kevin Jamesproducer
Adam Sandlerproducer
more »
Distributor: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures

“Welcome to his jungle.”

Copyrighted, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures

Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) thought he had planned out the perfect marriage proposal to his girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb). Too bad she couldn’t see herself married to a lowly zookeeper.

Five years later, Griffin is still alone but very happy at his job taking care of “his” animals and working alongside the zoo’s veterinarian Kate (Rosario Dawson). When his brother Dave and his fiancé Robin invite Stephanie to a pre-wedding party, Griffin finds he still hasn’t gotten over her, but she makes it clear that being a zookeeper won’t do it for her.

The animals overhear Griffin consider leaving the zoo to go after her. Since they don’t want to lose their favorite zookeeper, they decide to reveal that they can talk and soon convince Griffin that they can help him win her back without having to leave.

Griffin hilariously mimics most of the animals’ mating rituals, from bear growls to “putting out the pudding” (jutting his stomach out) and goes as far as peeing to mark off his territory. The question is will “winning the girl” make him a better man than he was before?

Objectionable content

Language: Mild. About a dozen uses of “G_d,” mostly in the form of “Oh my G_d” and by itself. “Hell” is used once by the lion, and most of the sexual innuendo comes from the animals. For example, one of the bears talks about how “Canadian bears are wild,” and in particular one female bear who, “…had an extra claw and knew how to use it.” The way in which one bear challenged the other as to his experience with females hinted that it wasn’t the norm for him. Another animal later blurts out, “She wants you.” Much of this will go over the heads of young children, but it is still present. On the plus side, the monkey is happy to have thumbs and remarks, “I’m so blessed.”

The zoo’s resident reptile expert Venom (Ken Jeong) gives an excessively long hug when introduced to Griffin’s future sister-in-law and says after, “I got to gets my flows on.”

Sex/Nudity: Mild. The kissing scenes are refreshingly tame. It is seen that Griffin and Stephanie are living together but that scenes is short, as well as clean. The most sexually suggestive scene comes when Griffin needs to borrow Venom’s car, and he is told that he has to get the keys himself from his pocket. Venom is seen clearly relishing Griffin fishing for the keys, and we should all be made uncomfortable by this.

Another unnecessary scene is when the wolf tells Griffin he needs to mark his territory by urinating on it. While he is doing this, two female employees walk by and see him, and one remarks disdainfully how that’s a sight she won’t easily get out of her mind.

Violence: Mild. The film’s violence is mostly comic and self-inflicted, as when Griffin first panics after hearing the animals talk and starts running into things. Later, Griffin is forced into traffic while on a bicycle, but no real peril is ever portrayed.

Lessons

The zoo animals’ well meaning attempts to help Griffin, only serve to showcase the base, animalistic forms of “love” that the world feeds us daily. When Stephanie first sees Griffin, after five years, she comments not that she missed the man inside, but that he looks cute. What works for animals was never meant for those created in God’s image. Surely, one of the most romantic verses in the Bible explains the depths that marriage should bring.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Griffin denies himself in order to be the man that Stephanie can love, whereas she will only love him if she can remake him. Gale, Stephanie’s ex, is boastful, arrogant, prideful and confrontational, when he sees Griffin is trying to win her back. Kate, Griffin’s co-worker, has a heart more like his and is even willing to help him win Stephanie back, by pretending to be Griffin’s new girlfriend. The Word of God defines true love and lets us plainly see which characters in the film reflect love and which personify the fake examples the world gives us.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The film addresses well what a good man desires and the trade-off that sometimes needs to be made. For as it is written in the Old Testament:

“What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar” (Proverbs 19:22).

An important subplot about the zoo’s outcast, lone gorilla Bernie (Nick Nolte) mirrors the heart of the film, which is about how love, in this case brotherly, can heal old wounds and help us in times of trouble.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

“Zookeeper” is a comedy marred slightly by questionable material which will be of more concern to parents than to their very young children. Properly rated PG, “Zookeeper” is a predictable, but fun journey for the whole family that you should not miss.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This movie was extremely funny, and I laughed through most of it. That being said, the preview, for example, of the movie shows the little monkey saying “Oh Crud;” however, what was said in the actual movie, is “Oh C__p”. From what the lion said, the bears and the pudding cup to the foxes telling the zookeeper to mark his territory, I came out of the movie disappointed that they have to put totally unnecessary scenes like this in a movie aimed at children with their families. I have seven grandchildren and would have been embarrassed, if they had been with me. Sad that you have to check out everything…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Linda, age 61 (USA)
Positive—I thought this movie was adorable, and it was very funny! To appreciate it, I think you need to love animals and like Kevin James” style of humor. The story line was pretty good, and I really liked it. I thought it was very cute, and it had some really good messages in life, about following your passion and not just money—being who you are.

The end is the funniest, when he is at his brother’s wedding—laugh out loud, really funny. And the animals try to teach him how to “be a man,” that part is really funny, because what they “teach” him is ridiculous; it makes it very funny. I watch a lot of movies, and this one was a good one and was very clean.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Samantha, age 37 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—Went to see “Zookeeper” yesterday, and I was really looking forward to a good time watching it, since I enjoyed “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” so much from Kevin James. I am not going to say I didn’t like it, because it was a cute movie with a good message about staying true to yourself. Kevin James was really likable and showed his now famous physical comedy a lot. The acting was good, even if the storyline felt kind of crowded. There was hardly any profanity. I believe “hell” or “d**m” was spoken once or twice. I don’t remember if the Lord’s name was taken in vain, which probably means it wasn’t there.

However, what gives me a slight reservation about the movie is the fact that it kind of portrays itself as a kid-friendly movie (there were many kids in the audience). There are some innuendos found in the animals” advice to the zookeeper, such as a “pudding cup” referring to the zookeeper’s genitals. There is a wedding scene that shows a male and female acrobat hanging from silk ropes displaying an inappropriate display of the woman’s posterior. In my opinion, the movie should not be considered a kid’s movie, in the same regard as “Paul Blart” should not be considered one, although I can see how kids would find the animals and Kevin James” antics amusing. I know my husband and I did, since we laughed out loud many times. All in all, it is one of those movies that is a good first date type.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Alisha, age 24 (USA)
Neutral—If you’ve seen the previews, you’ve seen all the funny parts of the movie… I suggest waiting and possibly renting the DVD. Hubby and I had seen the previews and were expecting a cute, funny movie. We love Kevin James in “King of Queens” and “Mall Cop,” but this movie was slow, and the attempts at jokes just fell out into the aisles. The most laughter I heard was when his character tinkled on a tree… That should tell ya we were all a little bored.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Ann, age 53 (USA)
Neutral—I thought it would be more about comedy just looking at the commercial but it wasn’t. It was just a lot of romance.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Michelle Sampson, age 39 (USA)
Neutral—I’ll start off by saying that “ZooKeeper” was a funny movie. There wasn’t anything extremely offensive, like you would find in a rated PG-13 or R movie. On the other hand, there were a couple of non-family friendly scenes. The first is where one of the animals (I forget which one, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the film), tells Kevin James’s character to urinate on trees or plants in order to attract a mate. During the time that he is peeing, 2 women walk up behind him, and upon hearing their voices he turns around, without zipping his pants first. Both of the women turn their heads right away, but this scene made me cringe.

A 2nd offensive scene is when he was peeing on a plant at a party. I realize all of that was used for comedy purposes, but animals and humans are obviously different. Another thing that parents will probably object to is how the characters are dealing with issues of love and romance. I felt like that was an inappropriate theme to put in a kid’s movie. Basically this isn’t a bad movie, but if you have younger kids then you should fast forward through the scenes I mentioned.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—T., age 20 (USA)
Negative
Negative—The basic story was a good one. It basically has a good message at the end—to be yourself and that you shouldn’t have to be someone you are not… just so you can be in a relationship with another person. It could have been an endearing movie, but, once again, they had to add crudeness to it. I definitely should have read a review on it. I just went by the PG rating, but I didn’t realize the PG rating had been stretched so far. My kids and I had to cover our eyes and plug our ears multiple times.

They used “hell” as a swear word 4 or 5 times. The dating situations were too mature for kids. The crude jokes and situations were sprinkled throughout. For example, the main character is shown (from the back) going to the bathroom on a tree/bush. This is after the wolf at the zoo gives the zookeeper advice on how to attract a mate. Another example is where the zookeeper threatens to beat another zoo employee, if that employee hurts the gorilla again. (The way he words, it is not something you want your children repeating.)

If you really want to see it, I would recommend renting it at home, so you can mute it or fast forward through certain mature parts. Also, watch it on a DVD player that has a filter for the swearing.

Proverbs 4:23-24 (NKJV)—“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” Philippians 4:8-9—“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Heather, age 38 (USA)
Negative—My husband and I walked out on this boring and crude film. A man urinating on a plant at a party, after a wolf has advised him to show his macho side by marking his territory is not funny to me. We usually check the content before seeing a movie. The reviews didn’t tell us how stupid and vulgar this movie is.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Maggi, age 61 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—I am under 12 years old, and I saw this with my dad. I thought that it had a lot of bad stuff in it. The bear said bad things. Some of the scenes were not for children. The wolf was not so good either. I would not recommend this for younger children. I did not like those parts.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—A. Goodwin, age 10 (USA)
Negative—I thought this movie was very stupid! I didn’t like the talking animals in it. The animals made the characters look dumb. There is one scene in the movie were the gorilla goes in a bar and everyone thinks that it is some guy in a costume. There was also a character in this movie that was supposed to be gay. Also, there was a lot of crude humor in it. I would not recommend anyone to watch it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Meaghan, age 13 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—My husband and I went to this movie last weekend and walked out after 35 min. We had average expectations, but were VERY disappointed. The scene with the wolf and the man in the zoo, and then at the scene at the party, were extremely offensive. We will not recommend this movie to anyone, and especially not parents. We were looking forward to a light romantic comedy…
—Ph, age 48 (USA)
Negative—Honestly, just skip it… It just wasn’t worth it… precious oxygen was used up (while gasping at the crudeness) that we’ll never get back! :) We stayed for over 45 minutes thinkin'… oh, the ratings weren’t bad, it’ll surely get better… surely, and then got up during the party scene and went and watched the last half of “Kung Fu Panda”! I’m sorry we had to do that.

I’m sorry that movie writers feel they have to put all of this kinda “flavor” into a movie to make it good. My parents were with us and had been worried about the “violence” in “Kung Fu Panda,” but the message in that movie was very clear and positive (albeit a BIT violent… I agree), whereas, I was completely missing the point of “The Zookeeper”!

The “Pudding cup” remarks and the bear and wolf “How to get a girl” advice were line-drawers, but we hung on “til the Dude wet on the bush at the party! Where’s the “theme” and “message” there? I missed that. My kids were looking at each other, like, “Ummm… Mom, Dad… uhhh?” So, we discreetly split up and exited down the opposite rows and met up for Popcorn refills and Kung Fu happy endings!
—S, age 40 (USA)