Who's In It: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb, Ken Jeong, Donnie Wahlberg, Joe Rogan and the voices of Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, Cher, Nick Nolte, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Judd Apatow, Jim Breuer, Bas Rutten, Maya Rudolph, Don Rickles
The Basics: Because Hollywood Suits need to keep their jobs, they have to make sure that movies about talking animals contain at least the sketchiest framework of a human plot to help everybody pretend that it's all actually about something. So in this talking animal movie, Kevin James is the human zookeeper who gets love and relationship advice from all the talking animals. Everything they tell him is wrong, of course, but the unpleasant ex-girlfriend he pines for (Leslie Bibb) falls for it. Meanwhile, the joke's really on him because her willingness to resume their romance is predicated on the condition that he change everything about himself, including his career path. Can't he see that the cooler, nicer, smarter, awesomer Rosario Dawson is down to become the next hot female to fall for the King of Queens, low-paying job and all? Anyway, none of that matters because you're coming to see it for the talking animals.
What's The Deal: Lately I've been re-reading Andre Bazin's essential, scholarly What Is Cinema? and he makes a really profound point in the chapter called "The Ontology of The Photographic Image" and--oh, wait, sorry, right, talking animals. There's a big gorilla wearing a preppy polo shirt and he helps Kevin James trash a T.G.I. Fridays. He also paddles a kayak and carries James up the side of a bridge like King Kong. The giraffe is funny because it's Maya Rudolph doing a wacky high-pitched voice. The bears argue a lot about who's the studliest and most bear-like while teaching James how to be more like them and to "lead with [his] puddin' cup." The Adam Sandler-voiced monkey enjoys licking his own armpits. That's a thing Bazin forgot to write: Monkeys make everything better.
Other Talking Animal Stuff That Saves It From Being All About Boring, Earnest Adult Romance: There's this crow that wants to be part of the zoo animal gang but they just yell at him to get lost. So that's great. There's also this part where a wolf teaches Kevin James to mark territory with urine, announcing, "note the proud, soaring arc of my stream." That's funny, too. Sorry if these count as spoilers, but if you're worried about finding out this movie's amazing secrets too soon, then you might not be emotionally ready to buy a ticket in the first place.
What You'll Miss If You Run Out To The Restroom While The Closing Credits Unspool: A roll-call of all the animals singing Boston's "More Than A Feeling." Maya Rudolph and Cher provide capable vocals and Sylvester Stallone and Nick Nolte deliver the incapable ones.
Ken Jeong's Retirement Savings Action Plan: I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that this guy struck some kind of deal that would place him in the cast of every movie being made. Not that you can blame him for working. You never know when the calls from the agent might stop. But if he and Natalie Portman don't stop stealing all the acting there might not be any left for other people.