If you count “Doctor Doolittle,” “Stuart Little,” “Cats & Dogs” and “Garfield” among your favorite movies of all time, then you’re in for a treat with “The Zookeeper.” If, however, you don’t have an affinity for talking animal movies and are over the age of four, then you already know you’ll be sitting this one out.
“The Zookeeper” stars the recently busy (or maybe “slumming” is a better word) Kevin James as the titular zookeeper who works at a zoo where — you guessed it — the animals talk to him. Crazy! And it just wouldn’t be a talking animal movie without a bevy of middling to popular movie stars voicing the chatty critters. This time around you can enjoy the vocal works of Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow, Jon Favreau, Sylvester Stallone and Cher.
While my kneejerk reaction (a hearty eye roll) to “The Zookeeper” may be a bit unfair since I — being neither a child nor the parent of one — am not its target audience, I think I’m still justified in being annoyed with the general state of family films that are made these days. I know not all family fare can offer the brilliance of the Pixar movies, for example, but is it really necessary to resort to old, tired movie tropes that haven’t been inventive or entertaining since the 1960s when someone figured out that giving animals peanut butter makes it look like they’re talking? Kids are just young humans, not brainless morons, so it would be nice to see some family-friendly flicks that engage and inspire them, rather than rehashing what’s been done (mostly poorly) time and time again.
Jason Segel and your upcoming Muppet movie, I’m looking at you.
“The Zookeeper” — which also stars Rosario Dawson and Leslie Bibb — will grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals on July 8, 2011.
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Follow Rachel Coyne on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TheOpinionatedB.