Zookeeper - Howl! Kevin James's zoo man shovels up a steaming pile of ordure

Kevin James, TV sitcom lead, Adam Sandler sidekick and star of the unaccountably popular Paul Blart: Mall Cop, shares the screen with a bunch of talking animals in puerile family comedy Zookeeper.

He plays Griffin Keyes, a lovelorn keeper at a Boston zoo who reckons he needs a more glamorous job if he is to win back his shallow ex-girlfriend (Leslie Bibb). The animals under his tender care are appalled at the prospect of losing their favourite keeper and blurt out their great secret – they can talk.

The cat out of the bag, the animals decide to show him how to get the girl by deploying their own courtship rituals. Much asinine slapstick ensues as Griffin tries to ape the apes, lions and wolves, all the while overlooking his true Miss Right, the gorgeous Rosario Dawson’s veterinarian Kate.

The farce is pretty harebrained but more fun is to be had matching the animals with their voice-actors, among them Sylvester Stallone (lion), Cher (lioness) and Maya Rudolph (giraffe).

Best of the bunch is Nick Nolte as a doleful gorilla who persuades Griffin to take him out on a night on the town. It goes without saying that Sandler voices the monkey that throws its poop around. For the zookeeper that's a hazard of the job. A large part of his duty is dealing with dung. As a film critic, I know just what that's like.

On general release from 29th July.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.