Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
Kevin James … Griffin Keyes
Rosario Dawson … Kate
Leslie Bibb … Stephanie
Ken Jeong … Venom
Donnie Wahlberg … Shane
Nick Nolte … Bernie the Gorilla (voice)
Adam Sandler … Donald the Monkey (voice)
Sylvester Stallone … Joe the Lion (voice)
Cher … Janet the Lioness (voice)
Judd Apatow … Barry the Elephant (voice)
Jon Favreau … Jerome the Bear (voice)
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|Director||Frank Coraci—“Click,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” “The Waterboy,” “The Wedding Singer”|
Broken Road Productions
Happy Madison Productions
Kevin James … producer
Adam Sandler … producer
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|Distributor||Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures|
“Welcome to his jungle.”
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?
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.
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.
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:
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.