Premise: When the greatest zookeeper in the world considers quitting because women don’t dig his job, the animals of the zoo band together to find him a mate.
About: Yes, here it is folks: The 2 million (against 3 million) dollar script.
Writers: Jay Scherick & David Ronn
So Leonardo DiCaprio is playing a part in one of the top selling scripts of 2008. Jim Carrey is playing a part in one of the top selling scripts of 2008. Will Smith is probably playing a part in one of the top selling scripts of 2008. So which star will be playing a part in THE top-selling script of 2008? Did somebody guess…a zebra? Then you’d be right! Because the top-selling script of 2008 stars talking animals!!! Woooo-hooooo!!! I mean come on, who doesn’t love talking animals?
I’m not going to lie. I found Zookeeper to be quite enjoyable. Sure it doesn’t have spaceships or guns and it’s pretty much a carbon copy of Night At The Museum (with a little Toy Story thrown in), but it’s still a blast. ANDREW the zookeper can’t find any honeys in his line of work. He’s a lonely man whose only happiness comes from taking care of his beloved animals. But Andrew doesn’t want to be alone forever, and since the job keeps the women away, he decides to make a change in his life. Yes, he decides to quit the job he loves. When the animals hear this (animals which up to this point we thought were normal animals) they wait for everyone to leave the zoo and then someone screams, “Meeeeeting!” Minutes later they’re all convening in the courtyard. Yes, the animals can talk. And they need to find a way to keep Andrew here.
Since the beginning of time there’s been a code. And that code states that animals can’t talk to humans. When the beautiful new panda caretaker, KATE, moves in, the animals see a chance to get the two together and keep Andrew around. The problem is that Andrew has absolutely no game. Actually, he’s got negative game. Andrew’s not even sure where the game’s being played. So the animals have to do the unthinkable. They have to BREAK THE CODE and teach him “the game”. What follows is a hilarious scene where Andrew sits in front of every animal in the zoo as they explain to him how to get Kate. The writers do such a good job setting up Andrew and this world, it truly feels like someone who’s loved animals his whole life just realized they can talk. It’s like…what the fuck is going on right now???
Scherick and Ronn really know how to write a screenplay. Even if you’re not a fan of Zookeeper (and essentially what we’re talking about here is a family film – so it’s understandable if you’re not) you gotta give these guys props for how they write. They keep everything simple and to the point. There’s a lot of white space. No unnecessary action description or scenes. It’s the prototypical spec script.
They’re also masters of structure. Keeping all the characters motivated, keeping the storyline fresh, interesting, and moving, introducing twists and turns at just the right spots. And through it all, making it all seem believable – not an easy feat for a movie with talking animals.
This isn’t a movie I would rush out to see on opening day but if they nail Andrew’s casting, I’d rent it on DVD. Zookeeper is a solid screenplay. And its mix of ingredients will almost surely result in a huge box office meal. For that reason, the large price tag is justified.
[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] genius
What I learned from Zookeeper: This may seem obvious because we’ve all seen it before, but I was surprised by how effective it was in this particular story. The president of the zoo, the handsome but despicable TRENT, is also courting Kate. In a number of situations, Andrew comes to the rescue, saving the day, but because Kate was looking in the other direction or not around, it’s assumed that Trent – not Andrew – was the hero. I found myself actually screaming at the screen, “No! It wasn’t him, it was Andrew!” What more can you ask for as a writer? Have your villain steal the credit from your hero whenever possible. It’s a great way to make us love our hero more and hate our villain more, all at the same time.