Chalet GirlDirector: Phil Trail, Paramount Pictures, Rated PG, 96 mins
As a relatively new filmmaker (having mainly directed TV series and then making the movie All About Steve which was not well received) Phil Trail’s latest release turns out to be a charming romantic comedy about nineteen year old Kim (Felicity Jones - Cheri) who cares for her dad Bill (Bill Bailey) after her mother is killed in a car accident.
To help him with the mortgage payments Kim does waitressing at a London fast-food outlet until she gets the chance to work at a ski chalet in Austria for a few months despite not knowing how to ski.
Together with regular chalet girl Georgie (Tamsin Egerton – St Trinians) Kim’s job is to cater to all the needs of a visiting high posh family headed by Richard (Bill Nighy - Wild Target), wife Caroline (Brooke Shields - Furry Vengeance), handsome son Jonny (Ed Westwick - S.Darko) and his fiancé Chloe (Sophia Bush).
During her spare time Kim takes up snowboarding with the aid of Mikki (Ken Duken-Inglourious Basterds) a friendly Finnish snowboarder.
She soon masters the sport, making her a contender for a lucrative snowboarding event that could reap her the highly sought after prize money for her dad - provided she can get over her mother’s death as well as overcome the final jump.
Of course there is the added complication of Kim’s attractiveness to Jonny (Westwick) whose involvement with a chalet girl incenses both Richard’s wife Caroline (Shields) and Jonny’s fiancé Chloe (Bush).
Despite the simple storyline the main attractions in Chalet Girl are the superb snowfield settings and the natural but appealing performance of Jones as the poor English girl who makes good in this likeable, feel-good comedy.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamp
ZookeeperDirector: Frank Coraci, Columbia Pictures, Rated PG, 102 mins
The likeable comedic actor Kevin James (Grown-Ups) returns to the big screen as a zookeeper (Griffin Keyes) in Frank Coraci’s crazy romantic comedy, taking on a Dr Dolittle role in a busy metro zoo where he is shocked to learn that the animals can talk to him and offer to help him get back his former fiancé, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb - Iron Man).
With the help of his animal friends - which are voiced by a great cast including Nick Nolte as Bernie the gorilla, Adam Sandler as Donald the monkey, Sylvester Stallone as Joe the lion, Cher as Janet the lioness, Judd Apatow as Barry the elephant, Jon Favreau as Jerome the bear, Maya Rudolph as Mollie the giraffe, Bas Rutten as Sebastien the wolf, Don Rickles as the frog - Griffin agrees to take on their dating advice as well as the spectrum of animal gestures and mannerisms in order to impress Stephanie which only makes him look silly.
At the same time Griffin is unaware of the real affection that Kate (Rosario Dawson-Unstoppable) the zoo’s vet has for him while he is chasing Stephanie.
Having earlier directed his hit comedy Click, Coraci clearly has misfired with his zany Zookeeper movie by appearing to give more screen time to the animals in the hope that it will provide more hilarity and enable James to deliver more of his wisecracks.
Except for the scene where Griffin takes Bernie the gorilla out to a local milk bar - which does provide a few laughs - the rest of the movie is only funny in parts and unfortunately for the movie-goer, James is only able to serve up the same lovelorn loser character he displayed in his movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
VIC'S VERDICT: 2 Rubber Stamp
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