Film Review: Zookeeper

Zookeeper is pretty much what you would you would expect from a film starring Kevin James and produced by Adam Sandler. It is mildly entertaining fare, and not as funny as it should be.

Griffin is a zookeeper at Franklin Park Zoo. Five years ago, he had his heart broken by Stephanie when she turned down his marriage proposal. She is back on the scene in the run up to Griffin’s brother’s wedding, but Griffin is clueless about how to act. His beloved animals see this, and reveal a crucial secret: they can speak. The animals make it their duty to help Griffin with his love life…

Zookeeper follows a strict formula, which makes it predictable. Director Frank Coraci relies on stock archetypes to populate his film. Both the humans and the animals are very stereotypical, offering little in terms of innovation. Zookeeper is very much by the numbers, which would not be much of a problem if the film was funnier.

As it stands, the film lacks consistent humour. There are a few fairly amusing moments, but the film can never be described as hilarious. Many of the jokes rely upon the personalities of the animals. If you do not find these characters amusing, you are unlikely to find the humour funny.

Despite the presence of talking animals, perhaps what is most difficult to believe is that two very attractive women would be in a love triangle with Kevin James. This may seem like a shallow contention, but the women are both very attractive. Moreover, Griffin is not a particularly charming character. He is a nice guy, but he does not have a fantastic personality. And, for the misfortune of the two female characters and the entire audience, Griffin is not funny.

The casting in Zookeeper is hit and miss. Sylvester Stallone and Cher are most appropriate as the lions Joe and Janet. Nick Nolte brings some presence to the film as Bernie the gorilla. Adam Sandler, however, is abominable as Donald the monkey. The character has some of the best lines, which are ruined by Sandler’s sub-par delivery. Kevin James delivers his usual routine as Griffin, while Leslie Bibb is suitably one-dimensional as Stephanie. Rosario Dawson is decent, but restricted by her underdeveloped role.

Zookeeper does offer good special effects as well as some great animal actors. Nevertheless, it lacks the humour really required in a film such as this.

Film Review: The Dilemma

In the alternate universe of The Dilemma, Kevin James is married to Winona Ryder. Even if you can accept this, you may not be able to endure this mess of a film.

Friends since college, Nick and Ronny work together and spend time together, along with Nick’s wife Geneva and Ronny’s girlfriend Beth. When Ronny catches Geneva in a compromising position, he is torn over whether to tell his best friend or not…

The Dilemma suffers from a number of problems which impede the audience’s enjoyment. Firstly, it is difficult to identify the tone of the film. The Dilemma is not a riotous comedy, nor is it a credible drama. The film flits between a few moments of mild amusement and periods of sentimentalism. It is unclear what the film is trying to achieve, and indeed who it is aimed at.

Most significantly, however, is the fact that the film is incredibly boring for large parts. With a running time of 111 minutes, The Dilemma sometimes feels three times as long. A large part of the blame can be attributed to the lacklustre screenplay. Ronny’s indecision about how to handle the situation is played out for too long. Coupled with this is a script that often descends into corny dialogue between Ronny and Nick. Given how long Ronny wrestles with his uncertainty, it is difficult to summon the will to care about the impact of the revelation.

The Dilemma is a film concerned with a woman’s infidelity, among other things. However, another related incident comes to light part way through the movie. Although this is of a similar stature to Geneva’s cheating, it is merely swept under the carpet. There seems to be a blatant double standard in this regard, which leaves a sour taste.

Although it is nice to see Winona Ryder with a bigger role in a mainstream movie, it is just a shame that the project is this dire. The casting is highly questionable; Geneva and Nick supposedly met in college, yet she looks much younger than him. The talents of Jennifer Connelly are also wasted in The Dilemma. Vince Vaughn offers his usually shtick; the promise of his early years now fading rather. Channing Tatum is amusing with an over the top performance that is responsible for a number of the film’s laughs.

Ron Howard is a competent director, yet The Dilemma appears pretty sloppy work. The music is one of the few positives that the film offers. Overall, The Dilemma does not provide sufficient heart or enough laughs to make it a worthwhile watch.