Hello, Spongey here.
This is one film that has been on my hit list for awhile, but I haven’t gotten around to it until now. This 2011 comedy was a laughing stock from day one, and as result, I’ve been wanting to watch it to see how bad it is.
Why is it so hated? Well, for one, it’s a Happy Madison. Oh joy, Sandler’s crap factory is rearing it’s ugly head again. Outside of Bucky Larson, I haven’t done many HM films that lack Sandler. I plan to do more in the future (The House Bunny, Here comes the boom, etc) but let’s focus on this one.
With a 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, this was one of the most hated HM movies until Bucky Larson and….you know what, came along. It stars Kevin James, who I mock a lot, but to be honest, he isn’t that bad. He has an air of likability to him that is sadly wasted by his movies, which all have one joke:
Yeah. Also, he has a sequel to his (in)famous film Paul Blart Mall Cop coming out this week. Why aren’t I review that as a tie in? Eh. it’s been done and I don’t think I’d add a lot. This one hasn’t been reviewed a lot, so we’re looking at it, sorry.
But let’s look into the creative team. Our director is the man behind The Waterboy, Here comes to the boom, and Blended. Not looking good. Yes, he did do The Wedding Singer and Click but that hardly makes up for the bad ones. After Blended, I give up on him making good Comedies again.
We have 5 writers. Wait, what?! Goddammit, when will people learn that too many cooks are bad!? There’s Rock Ruben who wrote for King of Queens (which I’ve never seen) and that’s about it. We have Jay Scherik and David Ronn, who wrote Norbit, and Smurfs 1 and 2, It just keeps getting better and better.
And lastly, we have Kevin James himself, and Nick Bakay, who is best known for voicing Norbert on The Angry Beavers and Salem on Sabrina the Teenage Witch ….And my respect for him goes straight down the toilet.
So with this winning staff, let’s see how Kevin James does by himself without Adam Sandler to hold him up.
This, is Zookeeper
The movie opens with Griffin, played by Kevin James on a lovely date on the beach with yet another chick who is too hot for him. Griffin proposes to his girlfriend….through a message put in a bottle for her to find. It’s original, I’ll give it that.
“I’ve done a lot of soul searching, and I know it’s just right”
Whoa, this is guy genuinely sweet and romantic. I don’t hate him at all! Maybe this movie won’t be so bad after all.
“I’m thinking we’ve reached the end of the line. I know it shouldn’t bother me that you’re a zookeeper, but it does”
She dumps this seemingly sweet guy simply because he isn’t tough, and is a zookeeper. ….What a bitch! I figure this is the point, but come on!
“You had to have seen this coming”
Sorry he didn’t have a Bitch-dar.
Also, if you dislike someone for a reason that big (in your eyes) then maybe it was a bad idea to wait this long to dump him! At least that chick in A Million Ways To Die on the west let Seth down gently and wasn’t a bitch about it.
So after this comedy showed us a man getting dumped by a bitch, they leave and we cut to a few years later, on a typical day for Griffin at his job. We see him being an oh so lovable fat guy, as he sets up a tire swing for this big gorilla that everyone is scared of.
After that goes well, he visits the Zoo Vet/obvious love interest, Kate, played by Rosario Dawnsn. We find out that Bernie the Gorilla, is a dick that just sits there all day and no one can get to him. Gee, I wonder if this will be important.
After that, they have to operate on an animal so we can get some cheap gross out humor. That night, they have a party for Griffin’s brother Dave, who is getting married, and we are briefly introduced to the reptile house guys, Venom, played by Ken Jeong. Still better than Deep Wang.
Also, Dave’s girlfriend is played by Kevin James’ real life wife, who, keeping with tradition, is too hot for him. Griffin gives a speech about love or whatever, Naturally, it’s a way to make Griffin mourn his lack of a lover, and give him unearned cheap sympathy points. It goes well…until he spots Stephanie, the bitch from the opening, in the crowd. He gets all nervous after that. It’s not funny. NEXT!
Dave tells Griffin that Robin, his lady friend, invited Stephanie, and we learn in the next bit that Robin knew about what happened with her and Griffin. So she knowingly invited the bitch that broke up with her boyfriend’s brother.
What a bitch.
Robin tells Stephanie that she thinks she saw her looking at Griffin a certain way. Steph admits that she may feel bad for how things turned out. I’m guessing Griffin will try to get her back and hijinks ensue, right?
Dave offers Griffin a job at his car dealership.
“You can make your annual salary in a month. That is how you get a girl like Stephanie!”
Because all that matters is money and power. Yeah, I’m sure this is part of the moral but it makes Dave out to be a dick. Griffin talks to Stephanie and they seem to hit off again. Yeah, let’s forget about how much of a bitch she was.
After that, we find out this movie’s gimmick: The animals talk. Yep, this movie falls under my least favorite genre: talking animal movie. The animals have a meeting after witnessing Griffin’s love skills. The animals have a meeting after witnessing Griffin’s love skills. They aren’t happy to learn that Stephanie is back.
Now let’s meet our voice cast. We have an Elephant voiced by Judd Adaptow (It’s never a good idea to put a much better comedy writer in your bad Comedy), a Giraffe voiced by Maya Rudolph, Jon Faverau as a bear, Cher as a Lioness, Sylvester Stallone as a Lion, and a monkey voiced by…Adam Sandler.
They exchange bad jokes until they decide they should help Griffin win the heart of this bitch again. However, they have a code saying they can’t talk to Humans so they have to do this discreetly. Hilarity will probably not ensue.
The next day Stephanie shows up for a little date, so it’s time for the animals to help out…by having the lion attack her so Griffin can make a daring rescue. Eh, that’s not a bad plan in concept, but of course, Griffin fails like the ass he is.
Brilliant plan there, guys.
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
You know-for kids!
Griffin hears him say that which scares him. We cut to him at home, scared of the talking animals, and we briefly see him watching…Sabrina.
Goddamnit. Also, one talking Lion sends you into a frenzy?
The next day, Griffin tries to pretend nothing happened but he gets knocked out by accident and wakes up with the animals around him. It didn’t take long for you guys to break the code, did it?
As a side note, Sandler is really annoying in this. It’s another role where he just has to talk in the most annoying voice possible with the script giving him lame jokes. It’s almost bad as…that other 2011 movie we shall not speak of.
They explain everything to him and he doesn’t know if he really wants their dating advice. And now he’s just cool with talking animals. Whatever. After thinking about it, Griffin decides he will let the animals help become a ladies man.
Isn’t that the best premise for a movie you ever heard? …Well it’s actually not that bad on paper, but the animals are saddled with are so annoying, that I doubt this will work. It’s not just Sandler, the others, minus Stallone who is okay, has had mostly dead materiel so far.
First up, these Bears give Griffin their advice which of course ties into Bears. It leads to some lame jokes with Kevin James acting like a jackass in front of people by accident. This is gonna be the entire 2nd act, isn’t it?
Thankfully, we get a break from that as we go back to the Bernie the Gorrial subplot. After hearing about the code being broken, he finally lets his guard down, and after we add another Celebrity who wants a paycheck (Nick Noltie in this case), the two bond a bit.
Eventually, Bernie reveals his backstory. He was put in this place after supposedly attacking a Zookeeper named Shane. But as it turns out, Shane has been abusing the animals, and one day he slipped while Bernie was striking back. He lied and said that Bernie attacked him, causing Bernie to lose his trust in humans.
Hey, that’s actually a pretty decent plot point. It gives interesting character insight and the scene actually works. Why couldn’t the movie be about this instead of Kevin James the ladies man?
Speaking of which, we return back to that, which brings me great joy. That’s not Sarcasm, I swear. A wolf tells Kevin his method, which involves…pee. Yeah…that’s his big theory on how to attract ladies.
He tells Griffin to piss on a tree…and he does and he is caught by some people who walk by.
…What am I supposed to say that?
Let’s…try to forget that and cut to that night, as Griffin tries some of his skills out on Stephanie. But his plans are interrupted by a visit from Steph’s over Ex-Boyfriend, Gale who is probably a dick. He hasn’t done a lot yet, but I’ve seen another movie before, so I know he’s a dick.
Griffin backs down and talks to the animals later on. Sandler acts like a jackass and Stallone gives his own advice. He basically tells him to get her alone and away from the Ex. Griffin tries this out the next day while her and the Ex are riding bikes, which means we get a fat man riding a kid bike because it’s funny. There’s a bit more context to that but do you really care?
Griffin eventually gets her alone but she tells him she’s kind of back together with the Ex. Wah wah. He reports this to his animal friends, and Cher the lion suggests making her jealous with another girl. Oh crap, if I was doing a cliché count it would just explode, as this the single most overused cliché in the history of ever.
It tends to work better than some others, but when it pops up in something bad/weak, you know it won’t be done well. Especially since it’s painfully obvious who the fake girlfriend be, and that she will become a real girlfriend.
Sure enough, he asks his friend to be his fake girlfriend and she points out how dumb and cliché this is. She goes along anyway because the plot says so. That part is dropped for now, so Griffin can take Bernie the Gorilla to TGI Fridays.
Yeah, for…pretty much no plot related reason besides BIRTHDAY, Griffin takes Bernie out and disguise him as someone in costume. …It’s like the crew wanted to go out to TGI Friday’s but they had to shoot the movie, so they just brought the Gorilla to work it in.
And yes People fall for it because of course they do. This ends up becoming an excuse for the two to bond and have a “sweet” moments. We totally needed this weird detour to do that. To be fair, they have a couple amusing lines here, like when they comment on things “getting weird”.
A couple days later or so, Griffin picks up Kate as his date for this wedding Gale and Stephanie are attending. Naturally, this leads to them having awkward moments while trying to make sure Steph sees them.
Eventually it works its way to giving us awkward dance stuff. But then we have “Sweet” dance stuff as they play a slow song and our obvious couple hits it off. After some stupid things happen, Gale tells Griffin to back off his girl. Yep, he’s a dick. I’d say I called it, but so did every single person on earth.
Griffin doesn’t really say anything because when he tries to do some weird Gorilla thing, he splits his pants.
SPONGEBOB: I guess I ripped my pants again.
After…that, he calls the animals (cuz they have a phone now, just roll with it) and asks for some advice. The lion tells him to insult here because that trick always works well in fiction, right? Actually, it kind of does since he compliments here after. Whatever.
He mans up and confronts Gale again. This is the closest you’ll get to Kevin James being a badass. This works and he seems to be closer to Stephanie. After that crazy night, Griffin and Kate have a little moment and Steph pops up to apologize for Gale being a jerk.
They had a such good time here, that Steph asks Griffin out to dinner and they head out. Man, it feels they couldn’t settle on a night scene with Dinner, or a kind of night scene with a Wedding/Reception so they just did both in a row. Feels a bit exhausting.
They hit it off some more, but she’s once again turned off his by his Zoo stuff. But despite her being a bitch again, he’s not bugged by it because we need a character arc about him learning to be himself.
Well…to be fair at least the person he was being before was a nice guy and thus the moral actually works. Huh, didn’t think they’d get that tricky moral right, even if it’s still a bit predictable.
“Let someone else zookeep tomorrow”.
They hang out some more and Griffin seems to be turning into a confident dick. After their fun night, she tells him that the zoo is holding him back and he should take that Dealership job.
He takes it without even thinking. Yep, I know exactly where this is going but it’s going so fast that its feeling kind of forced. But whatever, it means the movie will finish faster. He breaks the news to Kate, who is not happy with this.
Of course she says that Stephanie is changing him and Griffin is a dick about it. These plots are tricky, since I always defend them when people bash them by saying “oh, he’s SUPPOSED to a dick, you idiots”. But in those cases, it’s not super cliché while it kind of is here. So much so that ‘’m just watching this and not really caring.
Also Kevin James is a bit annoying as a dick and the change in character is way too rushed to really feel like a natural progression. Not quite as bad as the Spongebob episode “Porous Pockets” in this regard, but still weak.
Anyway, he talks to Bernie who no longer trusts him because of what happened. Infact, he no longer trusts humans in general. Ouch. Before Griffin leaves, he talks to Shane and says if he does anything crappy like he did 10 years, he…well..
“I will do to your house, and beat you in front of your mother”
Of course, the animals miss him and make lame jokes about it. Kate is so devastated by Griffin’s turn that she decides to get a job somewhere else. She tells this to Chang here and we have a lame joke from him. Yawn.
As you might expect, Griffin starts to regret turning into a jerk and after a couple small scenes of him thinking, he tells Stephanie this isn’t working out. This happens after she proposes to him.
“Come on, you had to see this coming’
Haw haw role reversal, how clever. He could have done it in a nicer way, since she did seem a bit nice in this scene at least. Either way, he tells her off and goes back to the Zoo to apologize to the animals. Well, Bernie actually, the others aren’t as important for some reasons.
Bernie quickly forgives him because the movie is in a real hurry to end itself. Not that I blame it, really. But wait, we have a forced conflict to get through!
Kate is getting on a flight to that other job and Griffin his to get her back. There’s no real point in this but we gotta complete this cliché story somehow!
But first, he beats down Shane…because reasons.
Of course, we have a chase scene where it seems like he’s too late but through some implausible stunts, he gets to her car. He tells her that he’s not a dick and that he loves her. Yeah, him loving her is very forced and lame but I don’t care at this point.
Naturally, she quickly forgives him and they kiss. We cut to 6 months later, as Griffin is happily working again and Bernie has a cool new enclosure. They look at the city and…roll credits.
Yep, another ending that is rushed even by rushed ending standards. Not too shocked really, given how rushed this whole 3rd act was. And the animals sing more than a feeling in the credits as we watch funny outtakes. Yawn.
I think I’m finally getting desensitized by all these crappy Happy Madison movies. If I did this way back in 2012, I’d be all angry with even worsr grammar. But now, I’m just kind of…Meh.
Now, this one is kind of bad, but in a fairly harmless way compared to a lot of other movies. If I did this before I really understood this stuff, I’d be angrier. I would treat it as worse than it really is, and it would be Inspector Gadget 2 all over again.
I’m not sure if I should go into deep detail, since the problems seem pretty obvious. The first half of the movie is incredibly dumbed down with really juvenile humor, and it tries way too hard to get us to like Kevin James.
The 2nd half is really boring and rushed, going through the motions in a very mechanic fashion. It fails in every way I expected, and there’s no point going through story and characters, like I usually do.
But I’ll try. The story had some potential, but it mostly ended up being too cliché for it’s own good. I give it credit for trying to get emotional (more so than some other HM films) but the aforementioned problems drag it down.
As for the characters, only Griffin and Bernie really matter in the end. Seriously, all the animals end up being pointless, only used for dumb jokes in the 1st half. They seemed to be setting up a few arcs with characters like Stallone Lion, but it goes nowhere.
So we have animal characters who are annoying with nothing to talk about. Except that Adam Sandler gives one of his worst performances to date. I blame the dumb jokes he’s given but him talking in an annoying voice doesn’t help. Honestly, its almost on par with his Jill performance.
Everyone else does fine, though. Kevin James is a lot better than in some other HM movies but the script doesn’t do him any favors. His character was a bit pathetic for his own good, and he seemed to just exist for the sake of this cliché story rather than acting like a fully developed character.
Bernie is the most interesting character with a good backstory, and even nice development, but it’s very rushed and he just becomes kind of weak. Oh, and Kate is one of the most painfully obvious and weak love interests I’ve seen in a while.
And did I mention the humor sucks? Cuz there are some painful jokes in this, like the pissing scene. Ugh.
With this movie, you have an annoying first half, and a boring and rushed 2nd half. As flawed as the 2nd half was, it was far more tolerable and I was just kind of meh on it. This film has shades of “pretty bad”: but also shades of a “meh” kind of bad.’
With all that, I’d say this is kind of bad movie that’s honestly pretty harmless when compared to other movies I’ve covered. It’s pretty stupid and dumbed down but I likely won’t remember this in the long run. Except for Sandler and the dumber moments, of course. I just couldn’t gather hatred for it by the time it ended. I just …disliked it. That’s all. Either this one isn’t as terrible as I thought, or I’m just desensitized.
I disliked it more than Film Brain (He declared not “Bad” enough for a review) but liked it slightly more than a lot of critics at the time. Overall, it’s …bad but not the worst. Trust me, even 2011 gave us worse Sandler fare.
Meh, it kind of sucks but I don’t care.
Next time, we finally do our first two part review of the new Schedule! What shall I be covering for it? Well…
Yep, it’s time.