Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frank Coraci|
|Music by||Rupert Gregson-Williams|
|Edited by||Scott Hill|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$169.8 million|
Zookeeper is a 2011 American comedy film directed by Frank Coraci, starring Kevin James, Rosario Dawson and Leslie Bibb, and featuring the voices of Nick Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, Don Rickles, Judd Apatow, Cher, Jon Favreau, and Faizon Love. It revolves around an unlucky zookeeper who turns to the animals at his zoo to help him find love. It was the first MGM movie to be co-produced with Happy Madison, yet distributed by Columbia Pictures. The film was released on July 8, 2011. This was the last film Don Rickles starred in before his death in 2017.
Filming began in Boston on August 17, 2009. The film received negative reviews from critics and it earned $169.8 million on a $80 million budget. Zookeeper was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 11, 2011.
A zookeeper named Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) sets up a plan to propose to the love of his life Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), but she rejects him and claims that his career as a zookeeper is what is keeping her away, therefore breaking Griffin's heart.
Five years later, Griffin is shown to be the lead zookeeper at the Franklin Park Zoo who cares deeply for the zoo animals. That night, Griffin holds a party at the zoo for his brother Dave (Nat Faxon) who is getting married, but freaks out when he discovers that Stephanie was invited. Dave offers Griffin to come and work with him at a car dealership, explaining that it is the best way to get Stephanie back. Griffin contemplates quitting his job at the zoo and joining his brother at the dealership.
Later, the animals hold a meeting saying that they think Griffin is the best zookeeper at the zoo and don't want him to leave, so they decide to find some way to help him win Stephanie's heart. Jerome the Bear (Jon Favreau) suggests that they teach Griffin their animal mating techniques, but Joe the Lion (Sylvester Stallone) protests, reminding them that it's against the animal code to talk to humans. Donald the Monkey (Adam Sandler) says that Stephanie will be at the zoo tomorrow, and all the animals have to do is make Griffin look like a hero in front of her.
The next day, Donald unlocks the door to the lion enclosure and lets Joe out, who confronts Stephanie and Dave's fiancée Robin (Steffiana de la Cruz). Kate (Rosario Dawson), the zoo's vet, manages to get them away from Joe, but Griffin fails to jump into the lion enclosure, ruining the animals' plan. When he climbs out of the enclosure, Joe yells at Griffin, causing Griffin to believe he has gone mad. The next night, all the animals break their code of silence and tell Griffin that they will teach him what to do to win Stephanie. Griffin learns their different mating rituals, but ends up humiliating himself in front of the other zookeepers and the guests.
Griffin then has a talk with Bernie (Nick Nolte), a forlorn gorilla who was moved into a deep enclosure after allegedly attacking a zookeeper named Shane (Donnie Wahlberg). Bernie explains to Griffin that Shane abuses the animals and he fell when he was abusing Bernie. He lied and said that Bernie attacked him, causing Bernie to lose his trust in humans.
Griffin discovers that Stephanie is dating her other ex-boyfriend, a bullying alpha-male named Gale (Joe Rogan). Joe's mate Janet (Cher) tells Griffin that the best way to attract a female is to be seen with another female, so Griffin asks Kate to go with him to Dave and Robin's wedding. Griffin then takes Bernie to T.G.I. Friday's and they bond, with Bernie telling Griffin that he's his best friend.
Griffin and Kate go to the wedding and seem to have fun together. Griffin becomes brave enough to stand up to Gale and this grabs Stephanie's attention. After Kate tells Griffin she had a great time with him, Stephanie asks Griffin out to dinner. Griffin accepts and they go to dinner and then go to a fashion show. Stephanie tells Griffin that his job at the zoo is holding him back, so Griffin decides to quit his job and accepts Dave's offer, which upsets Kate. Bernie also becomes upset and tells Griffin that he thought he could trust someone again, but was proved wrong when Griffin quit his job. Kate decides to leave the zoo and accepts a job in Nairobi.
Griffin becomes the best employee at the car dealership, but misses working at the zoo. Stephanie proposes to Griffin, but Griffin refuses and dumps her. He then goes back to the zoo and apologizes to Bernie, who accepts Griffin's friendship. The animals then tell Griffin that Kate is heading to the airport. Griffin heads out to stop her, though he does make a stop first to beat up Shane. Then, with Bernie's help, Griffin manages to catch up with Kate on the bridge and confesses his love for her. Six months later, Griffin and Kate are back working at the zoo and Bernie is now living in a new enclosure where he gets a great view of the city. When Bernie asks what a "Benihana" is, Griffin asks Bernie if he still has his iZod.
Tweet, the giraffe who rose to fame as a star in the classic Toys "R" Us commercials (by being cast as Geoffrey, the company's official mascot) and who appeared alongside Jim Carrey in the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, died after filming Zookeeper at the Franklin Park Zoo. The 18-year-old giraffe collapsed during feeding and in the care of his trainer.
Tai the elephant was featured in a video, reportedly filmed in 2005 and released in 2011 by Animal Defenders International (ADI), which showed him being abused by its trainers. A campaign to boycott the movie was formed since the outbreak of the news. ADI has also contacted the American Humane Association, urging them to re-evaluate how they assess the use of animals in films and the statements being made which effectively endorse the use of performing animals. Animal rights advocates PETA also urged the public to boycott the film.
Around 50 people came to the film's premiere at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles, California to protest against the filmmakers for their alleged animal abuse. Frank Coraci claimed that the animals were not harmed during production. In an interview, Coraci stated, "...We worked with people who love their animals and [the American] Humane Association was there to ensure that they were being treated correctly. We didn’t do anything that we shouldn’t do. We treated the animals with love and respect."
Zookeeper made its debut in 3,482 theaters in the United States and Canada. It grossed $7.4 million on its opening day and $20.1 million on its opening weekend, ranking it #3 for the weekend behind holdover Transformers: Dark of the Moon and newcomer Horrible Bosses. The film earned a worldwide total of $169,852,759.
Zookeeper received generally negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 14% based on 127 reviews with an average rating of 3.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Zookeeper smothers Kevin James's inherent likability with a sodden script and a surfeit of jokes inappropriate for the young viewers who would be intrigued by its juvenile storyline." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 30 out of 100 based on 29 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Mary Pols of Time magazine named it one of the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2011. British newspaper The Telegraph named Zookeeper one of the ten worst films of 2011, saying "Portly Kevin James is the hero of this "comedy", which boasts five screenwriters and not a single amusing moment."
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, who co-hosts the movie review series Ebert Presents: At the Movies, said that "even though the movie looks hilarious from the trailer, it is only hilarious if you enjoy seeing Kevin James fall down a lot". He gave the film a "thumbs down," as did Christy Lemire, the other co-host of the series. In May 2011, RedLetterMedia (creators of the Mr. Plinkett reviews) did an episode of the show Half in the Bag reviewing the film's first trailer. The hosts sarcastically praised the trailer as if they thought it was a fake, well crafted parody of a tired subset of the comedy genre, at one point noting "All they were missing was a wise cracking sidekick for Kevin James, played by a rapper." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times published a three-out-of-four star review, stating, "Look, a great movie this is not. A pleasant summer entertainment it is. I think it can play for all ages in a family audience... and besides, I'm getting a teensy bit exhausted by cute little animated animals. The creatures in this zoo all have the excellent taste to be in 2D."
|Teen Choice Award||Choice Summer Movie Star – Female||Rosario Dawson||Nominated|
|Razzie Award||Worst Supporting Actor||Ken Jeong||Nominated|
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