Clever, witty, great cast. Excellent movie for the children and got plenty of laughs out of me. The story was a little weak, but that’s allowed in children’s movies. The commercials also made it seem as if the zoo animals were exploring New York City for the whole movie, when really that only takes up about 20 minutes tops.
Kiefer Sutherland voices Samson, the lion at the zoo. His son is Ryan (get it? Ryan the lion), and can’t seem to find his roar. Samson tells his son about all his adventures in “the wild” to help him learn to roar, but nothing helps. After hours at the zoo is when the animals roam free…and apparently when animals are allowed to run free, they organize turtle curling championships. The Penguins versus Samson’s team of misfits. Samson’s team is Bridget (Janeane Garofalo) the giraffe, Benny (James Belushi) the squirrel, Larry (Richard Kind) the snake, and my personal favorite Nigel the koala, voiced by Eddie Izzard. Granted Eddie Izzard could sneeze and I’d probably find it funny, but he’s excellent in this movie. I just wish they had managed to work in the phrase “Cake or death?” (if you don’t get that, go Netflix Eddie Izzard‘s Dressed To Kill comedy DVD right now. You won’t regret it).
Back to the story…Ryan crawls into a crate that is taken to the docks and Samson and his crew follow to save Ryan. Samson is very Jack Bauer-ish, if Jack Bauer was afraid of his shadow every once in awhile and had a band of misfit animals instead of the awesome team at CTU. In the journey, they run into a couple of alligators in the New York City sewers (you knew that story had to be true!). In probaby my favorite scene, the alligators try to figure out where Samson and Co. are trying to get to. Nigel mimes the Statue of Liberty, and the very Brooklyn-esque alligators realize what every New Yorker realizes about people who ask for directions…they’re tourists! The alligators give them directions to get to the Lady in true New york fashion – they tell them they have to get all the way to “Battry” Park (rather than Battery Park), and then argue over which way to send them depending on construction. I could just imagine my Mom (who grew up in Queens, NY) giving directions to a tourist, and my Aunt saying “No, no they’re doing construction on the bridge. You have to go the other way.” Perfect screenwriting.
Of course there’s danger and suspense, and a heartwarming tale about father and son bonding, but that’s all expected from a kids’ movie. Kids will love it, and you won’t mind watching it with them.
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