'Zookeeper': What to Remember About Kevin James and Ken Jeong's Hit Comedy

Kevin James is not typically counted among Ken Jeong's many celebrity "family friends" on The Masked Singer, but the two did technically co-star together in the 2011 comedy Zookeeper. The movie is about a zookeeper named Griffin (James) who is unlucky in love but finds the talking animals at his zoo to be a help. It was a critical flop in its time, but this week many people are revisiting it.

Zookeeper was directed by Frank Coraci and co-produced by Happy Madison and MGM. It starred James, Rosario Dawson, Donnie Wahlberg and Leslie Bibb in person, with voices including Nick Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, Don Rickles, Judd Apatow, Cher, Jon Favreau and Faizon Love as some of the animals. Jeong played a foil character — as so often seems to be the case for him — named Venom, who worked at the reptile house in the same zoo.

In the grand scheme of things, Jeong's part was relatively small. However, it did earn him some attention on the award circuit, as he got the Razzie for "worst supporting actor" that year.

The movie is mostly about James' relationship with the animals, as they try to coach him in romance to help him win back the girl who dumped him, Stephanie (Bibb). This opens up a whole world of jokes about how love is done throughout the animal kingdom, and why it's not always applicable to human affairs.

Sadly, the jokes didn't land with everyone. At the time of this writing, Zookeeper holds an abysmal 14 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 3.41 out of 10. The critical consensus reads "Zookeeper smothers Kevin [James] with a sodden script and a surfeit of jokes inappropriate for the young viewers who would be intrigued by its juvenile storyline."


Commercially, the movie was a bit more successful, earning $169.8 million at the box office off of an $80 million budget. It also got a DVD and Blu-ray release later that year. Still, because of the movie's low popularity, it is not easy to find on major streaming services.

Zookeeper is available on Fox's free ad-supported streaming service Tubi, or on Amazon Prime Video for Prime members here.

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