It seems like ever since the death of Chris Farley there almost has to be a slot open for a funny fat man who bumbles and stumbles. Except Farley wasn’t just a fat man, he was much more than obesity. He had actual comic timing and every person since his death to take up the mantle has sine failed to replace him. Take one Kevin James, a man who fails at even holding Farley’s shoes but has sought out to be the current funny fat guy since his introduction in “Everybody Loves Raymond.” And since then he’s failed to hold a candle to the cliché fat guy comedy mold that has garnered him massive success because he is just so utterly one note and uncharismatic.
He has nothing unique about his form of comedy, he lacks the timing and dignity of said physical humor and he’s just another cookie cutter morbidly obese man looking to entertain audiences by indicating painfully with every frame how absolutely heavy they are. If that’s not enough, the writers shove Ken Jeong down our throat yet again (a desperate plea for laughter if there ever was one) who has a glorified cameo, and every other bland comedy trope you can imagine. Talking animals voiced by celebrities, animal humor, and feces humor are all on the menu and none of it is anywhere near being remotely funny or entertaining. It all feels like it were written by a prepubescent child that has no firm grasp on what constitutes a comedy or even a decent romance. Do kids even care if James gets the girl?
Of course not, they’ll be laughing at the talking animals who sound awfully like Sylvester Stallone and a post-cigarette Nick Nolte. This is a world where an ape can sneak out of a zoo and hide in a restaurant without even drawing attention to himself. James plays a down on his luck well meaning buffoonish (how original!) zookeeper named Griffin whose life couldn’t get any worse (again, how original!). But his plea for love with the local zoologist (Rosario Dawson is as gorgeous as ever) has caused the local animals to suddenly break their codes of silence and grant him some help with his social situation to rescue him from his jilted love life and awkward approach toward the opposite sex. This allows for a lot of awkward green screening and animal stunt work that pits James together with gorillas, lions, and monkeys, and in an instant it becomes a “Dr. DoLittle” sans the charm and family appeal.
James entire shtick is the centerpiece for “Zookeeper” where the majority of the film is focused on James trying to win back his ex girlfriend and garnering animal tactics to do so. And the film goes on a repetitive formula of talking animals offering advice, advice being horribly misused, and James falling flat on his rump in some horribly unfunny manner. Lather, rinse, and repeat. All of it is a truly unpleasant form of time consuming torture and “Zookeeper” is unfortunately one of the worst movies of 2011.