We’ve all sat there at some point and seen if we can pinpoint the exact moment the light in the refrigerator goes off as we close the door. We want to know for ourselves that the light does indeed go off and that the information we’ve been fed over the years is true and isn’t just another batch of lies and misinformation along the lines of how you can’t get a suntan on a cloudy day or who our real father is MOM!!!
The new Kevin James comedy Zookeeper is similarly about what happens after the lights go out. James plays a keeper at a zoo who has a great connection with the animals under his care. In fact he’s so in tune with them that he doesn’t want to go anywhere else, something that leads his girlfriend to reject his proposal of marriage and him as a whole. Fast-forward a while and he is, ultimately, considering leaving the zoo. The animals, though, don’t want to see him go and so reveal to him that they speak English and then work to help him become more adept in the ways of love so he can be happy *and* continue working at the zoo.
The first official poster almost completely sets the movie up as being Night at the Museum but set in a zoo. We get James’ character standing outside the gates of the zoo as the animals poke their heads around those gates in back of him. That’s all there is, just his name and the image. Your interest in this will entirely depend on whether you found NatM or Paul Blart funny.
The first teaser trailer almost completely sets the movie up as being Night at the Museum but set in a zoo. We get that James’ character is a bit surprised to find the animals there talking like human beings and he gets to run around and fall down a bit but that’s it. Your interest in this will entirely depend on whether you found NatM or Paul Blart funny.
The first full length trailer starts off with Keyes going through an elaborate proposal scheme, only to have his girlfriend turn him down because he’s a zookeeper. Years later he’s given a second chance – and an opportunity to get a different job – and so decides to leave the zoo. But the animals don’t want him to leave and so reveal they can talk and try to teach him how to get a woman.
The movie is basically an excuse to give James lots of opportunities to run into things, create a mess of things and otherwise act like a bull in a china shop, all situations he throws himself into with his usual vigor. It’s not great – it’s not even good – but it’s going to appeal to vast swaths of the moviegoing public so what are you going to do?
When the official website loads there’s a series of prompts off to the right that entices the visitor to take any of a number of actions. You can view the trailer, download the iPhone app that teaches you how to be a zookeeper or “Unleash the Zoo Buddies,” a tool that puts some of the animals from the zoo on any website you enter and lets the wreak havoc there.
After you Enter the Site you’ll be presented with a map of the zoo. When you hover over the different animals on the map a video clip pops up featuring that animal or another scene and then you can click through to view more. Each animal-centric section also has content about the movie.
“About” has a brief synopsis of the film’s plot and “Cast” has just a list of the actors in the movie but without any information or career backgrounds or anything like that so we’re in “minimal effort” territory here. “Videos” appears to just have the two trailers.
In “Games” there are two (one, really, since the other is still labeled as Coming Soon) casual games to play. There are a scant five stills in the “Photos” section and “Downloads” has Wallpapers, AIM Icons and Twitter Skins related to the movie.
There are some interactive features, including a few ported over from the official site, at the beginning of the Facebook page along with photos, a lot of video and updates on the promotional push for the film. Similar updates can be found on the official movie Twitter feed. There was also a Twitter profile for Bernie the Gorilla that, oddly, was a Verified Account, meaning it received an official Twitter stamp of approval.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
There have been multiple TV ads running for the movie that play up the broad physical comedy James is so well known for, meaning the commercials are heavy on him running into things and falling down. They also are pretty clear in portraying that there’s a big talking gorilla in the movie. So if nothing else you can’t say the advertising didn’t sell the movie accurately.
Media and Publicity
Nothing big that I’ve seen. Some talk about the various marketing materials and such but no big industry-level pieces designed to really get the word out about the movie. The studio must be banking on the idea that people are just going to naturally come to see it in the same way the general public flocked to see Paul Blart.
There’s obviously, based on my multiple references, not much effort here to differentiate this from either Blart of Night at the Museum movies since it was decided, by all appearances, that doing so would actually detract from people’s interest in the movie. So instead the audience is sold the most generic of movies featuring jokes that we’ve seen in dozens of other movies and featuring James taking a hit to the head we have in countless other scenarios. So it’s all about selling the tried and true here under the hope, apparently, that people are going to be so desperate for something to just check their brains and laugh at while not having their senses inundated or minds overwhelmed that they’ll come steadily to the box-office.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
- 07/07/11: An image of the movie’s title was digitally added to reruns of “How I Met Your Mother,” something that got a lot of people talking.