Zookeeper

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Zookeeper

Run time 104 minutes
Not for children.

Kevin James in “Zookeeper.”

Hard to believe that a film with talking animals is not OK for children, but this one isn’t. And if it’s not OK for children, who could see it, because it is basically inane? That description certainly fits the filmmakers, because they have inserted rudeness and bawdy humor and language into a film that should have had a captive audience in young children, but I wouldn’t want any young child of mine to see this.

It opens with Kevin James being rudely dumped by his girlfriend, Leslie Bibb, because he’s a zookeeper and she doesn’t think that bodes well for her future. James turns to the animals for advice. That’s right, the lion (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), the gorilla (voiced by Nick Nolte), the elephant (voiced by producer Judd Apatow), the monkey (voiced by Adam Sandler) and others (voiced by people like Cher and Maya Rudolph) become Kevin’s advisor as he becomes emotionally involved with Rosario Dawson. They tell him how he should act. But Kevin is ambivalent about how he should act, so his brother, Nat Faxon, gives him a job with more upward mobility, and, violà!, Leslie comes rushing back.

James surprised a lot of people, including me, with 2009s Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which was an entertaining film and a surprise hit. James co-wrote that, and he co-wrote this with Nick Bakay. It’s directed by Frank Coraci, who is a veteran of the stable that includes people like Sandler and Apatow and James. Coraci directed some dismal films, like the remake of Around the World in 80 Days (2004) and 2006s Click (a terrific idea that failed because the production was so uninspired).

There is a paucity of humor in this film. The cinematography adds little.

The sad part of this dismal production is that the movie has a pretty good moral, to accept yourself for what you are and to be yourself, regardless of what other people think. Unfortunately, in addition to having too much adult-oriented dialogue and situations for children, it’s too stupid for adults and is such a prosaic production that it is agony to sit through.

Tabloid

Run time 88 minutes
Not for children.

Archival photograph of Joyce McKinney featured in “Tabloid.”

Joyce McKinney was a beauty queen (Miss Wyoming) with an IQ of 168 who became involved with a man in Utah, Kirk Anderson, to the horror of his Mormon family in the ‘70s. When the Church sent him to England, she chased after him, kidnapped him, took him to a country cottage and chained him to a bed where she apparently proceeded to have sex with him for three days. When the kidnapping and sex were discovered, she became notorious headlines in the tabloids and the subject of criminal charges, all of which are covered here.

Director Errol Morris has McKinney tell her story herself. Apparently she has been living with it as the apex of her life ever since. McKinney must have trusted Morris, but it was a mistake. He lets the camera roll as she tells her story freely, but he intersperses it with shots of tabloid headlines that shriek “Rape” and “Guilt” in huge headlines.

It’s hard to tell whether this is a comedy or a tragedy, because as bizarre as McKinney and her story are, she believed it and lived it. That’s pretty sad. While she’s a smart woman and she cooperated, I question the morality of making the woman a laughingstock. On the other hand, the woman is so weird maybe she likes this and doesn’t feel she was taken advantage of.

Anderson didn’t participate, but there are two reporters from the rival tabloids, Peter Tory for the Daily Express, and Kent Gavin, a photographer from the Mirror, along with Troy Williams, a Salt Lake City Radio Host, who make comments along the way, none of which paint Ms. McKinney in a favorable light.

This is a strange story about an odd woman told in sometimes black and white and sometimes color film by talking heads and archival photos of newspapers. It’s not for everybody, but for some it might have a morbid fascination.

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