A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: July 8, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: October 11, 2011
- Cast: Ken Jeong, Kevin James, Leslie Bibb, Rosario Dawson
- Director: Frank Coraci
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Wild animals
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude and suggestive humor, and language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.