1. Zookeeper (Sony/ Columbia, 3,482 Screens, 104 Minutes, Rated PG): We have two film comedies opening this week, both trying to put a new spin on dusty old concepts. We’ll tackle the more kid-friendly of the two first, since its in the most theaters.
This film stars Kevin James as a zookeeper who is terminally unlucky with the ladies. So unlucky that the animals he takes care of feel it’s necessary to break the illusion that they can’t hear, speak and understand English so they can give him advice in this area.
James has a certain amount of charm playing the nice guy who fumbles in the affairs of the heart, but he has played that type of role too often (Hitch, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, The Dilemma) and the whole “talk to the animals” business has been done so often that it doesn’t add anything new to James’ repertoire. I’m not saying it is doomed to be bad, but it’s nothing we’ve ever seen before.
2. Horrible Bosses (Warner Brothers, 3,040 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated R): This film isn’t all that much more original that Zookeeper. It’s basically a variation on the Strangers on a Train/Throw Momma from the Train type of film, only with bosses in place of wives or parents.
What this film does have going for it is three likable leads in Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis (which is always good when they are turning to homicide) and three intriguing actors as the horrible bosses. You have Kevin Spacey doing a smarmy evil character that he does best. You have Jennifer Aniston playing against type as a sexually charged harasser. And you have Colin Farrell supplementing his natural acting talent with an absolutely absurd comb over.
This could add up to a few laughs. But will either film stand up to the Transformers: Dark of the Moon juggernaut at the box office?