Zookeeper Movie Poster Image




Pointless comedy is a waste of a talented comedic cast.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Even though the movie's overarching message is positive -- that someone should love you for who you are, not who you might become if you nag them enough -- there are many mixed signals about what constitutes someone's worthiness as a mate until the very end. Stephanie is portrayed as beautiful but mean and shallow, yet she's the one that Griffin is interested in for the majority of the film. Meanwhile, he acts surprised that Karen, a colleague, is actually attractive and treats her quite poorly until the end. So is the lesson that men are clueless and until they have an epiphany will reject a beautiful, intelligent woman if someone else is even more beautiful but mean?

Positive role models

As a zookeeper, Griffin is a good role model, because he's kind to the zoo animals and has a real passion for his work. But as a man, he makes mind-boggling choices. Anyone can see what an awful person Stephanie is, but Griffin uses his good friend, the equally as beautiful and intelligent Karen, to make his ex jealous and win her back into his life. He makes other questionable decisions while trying to woo Stephanie, including using a method of "tearing her down" (with insults) one moment and "bringing her up" (with compliments) the next. Karen, on the other hand, is consistently smart and generous.


For most of the movie, the only violence is Griffin's nearly incessant pratfalls (as well as gags in which others also humorously fall). He gets poked twice by a porcupine quill and falls into a pit between two animal enclosures. There's a bicycle race between him and his antagonist (they both get hurt, but it's more comic than violent). The gorilla, Bernie, tells James that another zookeeper was cruel to him. Griffin hits the other zookeeper so hard that he breaks the plaster in the wall.


The entire plot revolves around Griffin trying to win his ex's heart, and she's depicted as gorgeous, often wearing sexy dresses and outfits. Jokes are made about a bride's "flexibility," and a man boasts about how often he and his girlfriend "made out, hard." Some of the animals make double-meaning jokes about how to mate (show her the "goods," thrust out your loins, "take her down," "she had this extra claw and knew how to use it"). Griffin kisses two different women in the film. A Latin-style ballroom dance is rather spicy. 


Language includes "idiot," "hell," "shut up," "crap," "oh my God," and some insults hurled at a woman Griffin is trying to woo: "puppy breath," "hammer thumbs," "freckle chest," etc.


Griffin's brother owns an exotic car dealership that sells Ferrari, Mercedes, Ducati, and other luxury vehicle brands. Other product placements include Red Bull, TGI Friday's (which is the location of a key scene), and Benihana.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Several scenes are at wedding-related events -- engagement party, rehearsal dinner, and wedding reception -- where adults are shown drinking. There's also drinking at the TGI Friday's. Sabrina, The Teenage Witch is shown on TV (which isn't coincidental, since the movie was co-written by the actor who voiced Salem the talking cat).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this PG-rated Kevin James comedy deals with some grown-up issues about dating and mating that may not interest young kids. The humor, while featuring the predictable amount of animal "poop" and "pee" talk, is largely aimed at older audiences and includes some double entendres about sexual relationships -- marking territory, being forceful, highlighting your genitalia, and other jokes. Language includes words like "idiot," "crap," "shut up," and some scatological terms. Ultimately, the titular zookeeper learns a worthy lesson about just being himself, but by then kids will already have seen him act foolishly for an hour and a half.

What's the story?

Professionally, Griffin (Kevin James) is a successful lead zookeeper at a Boston-area zoo. But personally, he can't get over his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), who turned down his proposal five years ago. After he spots Stephanie at his brother's engagement party, Griffin vows to win back her affections, eventually using his sweet and attractive coworker, Karen (Rosario Dawson), to make Stephanie jealous. The zoo animals, who adore Griffin, decide to break their vow of silence and speak to him in order to help him with his dating issues. But Stephanie is only interested in Griffin if he agrees to leave his job and become the man she wants him to be -- rich, stylish, and materialistic.

Is it any good?


With so much comedic talent on board, it's really embarrassing that so few moments are laugh-worthy for adult audiences. Bernie the gorilla (Nick Nolte) driving a car straight into another car, Salem from Sabrina, The Teenage Witch popping up on TV just as Griffin has a meltdown about talking animals, and a couple of one-liners from the animals are about it. And that's being generous. This isn't so much a movie as a joke between James and his various comedian pals (Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow, Maya Rudolph, Faizon Love, and many more, who all voice animals).


Fans of Cher, who plays the zoo's lioness to Sylvester Stallone's lion, might want to stay for the credits to hear her (and the rest of the cast) sing Boston's classic-rock anthem More Than a Feeling. In fact, the soundtrack is hands-down the best part of the movie, with particularly memorable renditions of Flo Rida and T Pain's "Low," Barry White's "You're the First, the Last, My Everything," and Kansas' "Carry on My Wayward Son." Of course, the tunes alone aren't a reason to see yet another disappointing live-action talking-animal dud.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of animal-human comedies. Why are they so popular? What makes some succeed and others fail?

  • What does this movie say about romantic relationships? What dating advice works for Griffin, and what doesn't?

  • Who do you think this movie is intended to appeal to? How can you tell?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 8, 2011
DVD/Streaming release date:October 11, 2011
Cast:Ken Jeong, Kevin James, Leslie Bibb, Rosario Dawson
Director:Frank Coraci
Studio:Columbia Pictures
Topics:Wild animals
Run time:104 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some rude and suggestive humor, and language

This review of Zookeeper was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Heartwarming farm story is touching and a bit scary.
  • Upbeat talking-animal adventure is fun for kids.
  • Sweet book-based tale has some emotional intensity.
  • Not too many new tricks left for the old Underdog.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old July 16, 2011


Don't get me wrong here, I'm all for brainless comedy. It's what I do. But there's no need to push the stupidity further then it needs to go (Right. Because everyone takes a Gorilla to TGI Fridays. What are you saying? This is actually weird?! No. Way.)... Another thing I was shocked about was the use of language (no sweetie, lions don't cuss). and since when does a full grown man take "mating advice" from a pack of wolves (really the whole "marking your territory" by peeing in a plastic plant in a restaurant stunt made him so much more attractive)? By about the middle of the movie I just got fed up and checked my email (And yes, I did ask my mom if it was over yet) and apparently I wasn't the only one with the same idea because some kids a few rows behind us started playing their Nintendo! Hint hint media industry. This was an unnecessary-swearing-terrible-reincarnation-of-night-at-the-museum-don't-take-advice-from-wild-animals-safety-warning epic fail. As the only half decent line in the entire movie goes "It's going to be hard to un-see that." Amen.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written byhoffmans71 July 8, 2011

OK But Not For Kids

Then is way too much adult content, grown man relieving himself, one man digging into another's front pocket for keys only to be told begrudgingly that they are in the other pocket.. The animals were funny for the most part.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Parent of a 7 year old Written byMaw2 July 14, 2011

Zookeeper is not all that bad.

Although this movie is alot of what has been stated above. It is nice to go see a movie that I think is just relaxing. A clam movie compared to the violet movies that are out today. It is rather harmless, in words and deeds. The animal portrayal of behavior sets them apart from humans.Showing that people sometimes make dumb mistakes but can learn from those mistakes and come to understand more about themselves and their relationships with others. Altough the zookeeper is an animal advocate, and cares about others beside himself, he realizes he is a human and they are animals after all. It is also typical, I am sorry to say, of the attitudes of some in the world today toward those who are attractive and capable of working hard at what they enjoy. There are also some in this world that are typically wealthy lazy people that glut them selves on the riches and finer things of life, as they believe, not having a clue about how the poor middle class actually have to work for a livng. Over all there were some slower parts of the movie and some silliness that many of us can actually relate to. I really though it was a good clean movie and had a lot of posatives come from it. I would not be afraid to take my younger childlren to see it. However it would not appeal to those below the age of about 9. I think more movies of this type need to be produced. Clean, Family viewing with positive messages, with no cursing, and none of the extreme vilence of the movies today. Violence is becoming more and more viewed as the norm and I can see many ramafications that are coming from that in this world today. The violence and acutlism is so prevelant today in the movies and that is exactly what we are reeping the benefits of in our court rooms today.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?