Did we mention that things just go better with Kevin James? Well-trodden comedy hooks become strangely more amusing. Goofball physical shtick elicits broader smiles. The bumblingly stupid is made endearing.
If you've been waiting for Hollywood to produce a romantic comedy with a supporting cast made up of talking animals . . . well, no, even then, Zookeeper will let you down.
It's stupid, then it veers toward the absurd, but with James at its center it remains sort of sweet throughout. You can't hate James or the movie; both are just sort of dopey but well-meaning.
Ultimately, it's a marketing pitch in search of a movie that proves punishingly flat, with even the slapstick so sparsely delivered as to replicate a long slog through the zoo, surrounded by fidgety kids, on a suffocating summer's day.
Kevin James has developed an irresistible screen persona as a nice-guy/underdog, which has served him well in some pretty mediocre films like Paul Blart: Mall Cop. In that context, Zookeeper is a quantum leap forward...