Films which delight in a touch of the unreal


THERE is a touch of the make-believe in these three movies released this week.We have talking animals in Zookeeper, the classic tale of the little blue people in The Smurfs and a body switch in The Change-Up. All three are different but all have that element of fantasy.

Talking animals and a funny main character may seem like the perfect combination for a successful children’s film, but that’s not always the case.

Zookeeper (rated PG) seems to fall short of having a funny edge for a family film. Unlike other talking-animal flicks like Doctor Dolittle, this film produced by Adam Sandler misses the mark.

There is a bit of confusion about who this film is really aimed at. We have talking animals in a zoo, the loveable zookeeper Griffin played by Kevin James (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) and a matchmaking storyline.

We are introduced to Griffin when he proposes to his girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), who rejects him because she doesn’t want to marry a zookeeper.

Fast forward five years and Griffin is still at the zoo when he runs into Stephanie at an engagement party for his brother. And so the main plot begins. Her return alarms the animals who all adore Griffin and don’t want to lose him.

So they band together to figure out a plan, and in doing so they break their code that bars them from talking to humans so they can coach Griffin into getting Stephanie.

Most of the talking animals look realistic enough but the gorilla looks just like a man in a gorilla suit.

¦ Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern) and Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses) have been working the movie rounds lately with their separate projects, and join together for the comedy The Change-Up (MA15+).

The duo plays polar-opposite friends who swap bodies after a booze-fuelled night out together. Mitch (played by Reynolds) is a single, carefree character and has no job.

Corporate attorney Dave (played by Bateman) is a family man with a wife Jamie (played by Leslie Mann) and three children.

After the shock of realising that they have switched bodies, think scenes from the likes of Freaky Friday or ,i>Dating the Enemy , the mutual benefits become obvious. Mitch will be stuck with the responsibility of a family and job while Dave can relax and lead the single life.

But Dave and Mitch soon find out that each other’s lives are not what they seemed as they struggle to find a way to swap back.

¦ The Smurfs (G) is the classic take on the popular children’s cartoon up on the big screen and mixed with people in the real world. All the familiar faces are back including Papa Smurf, Smurfette and the evil wizard Gargamel.

When Gargamel chases the smurfs out of their village they end up in Central Park in New York City.

The Smurfs find help from a married couple, Patrick (played by Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (played by Jayma Mays), who allow the smurfs to stay with them.

The race is on for the smurfs to find their way back to their village before Gargamel gets to them first.