Directed By: Frank Coraci

Starring: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb, Steffiana De La Cruz, Donnie Wahlberg, Thomas Gottschalk, Sylvester Stallone, Cher, Nick Nolte, Adam Sandler, Maya Rudolph, and Bas Rutten

We all have those bad movies that we just can't help but enjoy.  They're guilty pleasures.  Throughout the film, you're wondering what the hell you're watching.  Strangely enough though, you're enjoying the film at the same time.  These flicks are the ones you watch at home when there's nothing else on TV.  You're channel-surfing and land on a notoriously bad movie.  The only problem is you can't turn away no matter how hard you try.  For me, Zookeeper is one of those flicks.  I had a little liquid inspiration though.

Zookeeper Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) puts together an elaborate plan to propose to his girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibbs).  After a romantic horseback ride on a beach in Los Angeles, he breaks out the mariachi band and the fireworks to pop the big question.  He just doesn't get the right answer.  Stephanie instead breaks up with him claiming that she would never marry a zookeeper.  Five years later, Griffin is still single and working at the zoo.  His heart has never healed from the damage done by Stephanie.

Interestingly enough, Stephanie shows up at a party at the zoo for Griffin's brother Dave (Nat Faxon) who's getting married.  She's a friend of the bride (Steffiana De La Cruz).  The spark is still there between the two former lovers, and Griffin realizes that there might be an opportunity to rewrite his history with her.  The only problem is that he believes he needs to turn the page on his career and leave the zoo to be with Stephanie.  The animals for whom Griffin has cared for years take issue with this though.  They think that Griffin can have his cake and eat it too.  At night, the zoo animals conspire to help their devoted zookeeper get back with Stephanie and remain at the zoo.  To do so though, they have to violate their code to not talk to humans and give Griffin a lesson in the art of wooing a woman.

For making a movie about talking animals, director Frank Coraci has really put together a stellar cast in Zookeeper.  With the likes of Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Nick Nolte, and Adam Sandler, you can't help but enjoy yourself.  At the same time, you can't help but feel sorry for these guys.  There's a melting pot of great talent here.  This impressive group of actors just isn't meant to portray a motley group of shallow humans and talking zoo animals.  They should all be doing bigger and better things than this barely enjoyable family comedy.

I can't think of too many examples of successful live action films with talking animals.  Zookeeper does nothing to change this fact.  For every smile I cracked, there were twice as many moments in the movie during which I cringed a little.  You'll be able to predict the film in its entirety after watching the first five minutes.  You'll see the preposterous nature of the plot because no man in his right mind would ever take a gorilla to have dinner in a sit-down restaurant with him even if the ape could talk.  You'll definitely know you're not getting world-class filmmaking.  Ultimately, you'll wonder what the hell studio execs were thinking when they gave Coraci the green light to make this crappy movie.

Despite this, you'll still laugh a little and enjoy this lighthearted family flick.  Even with all the problems mentioned, Zookeeper somehow manages to have a certain charm that makes it mildly enjoyable.  With a few gin and tonics, you can let all these issues go and have a good time watching this one.  Zookeeper gets a 0.09% rating.