Before Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold, Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire embodied everything most of us know about big-time entertainment agents. They can be weaselly in their business dealings, but they must have a raccoon’s ingenuity mixed with the predatory skills of a tiger to fight for their clients’ interests. So what would happen if we put up one of these movie agents against a group of actual animals? […]
Animals have more acute senses than people do and an entirely different way of looking at things, so it stands to reason that audiences have been lapping up talking animal stories since that snake was introduced in the first act of Genesis. Hollywood really pricked up its ears back in ’98, when the Dr. Dolittle remake starring Eddie Murphy became the highest grossing live-action film ever made in the genre. That’s when the industry started tossing them out like so many chew-toys: the Babe sequel, Stuart Little, Narnia… and that doesn’t even count animation.
Now, along comes Zookeeper, which has more than a few things in common with the good Doctor: a depressed animal that needs tender loving care, a know-it-all beast that dispenses good advice when necessary, a really annoying creature that talks too much, and a likable human being — in this case played by Kevin James — who has less success with his own species than he does with his furry friends. Dr. Dolittle and Zookeeper both go for the laughs, but both also play as wish-fulfillment for the odd duck within us all — the one that craves a little primal understanding when we don’t quite fit in. […]