“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” & “Zookeeper”

So here’s the dilemma, say you have a child who is between the ages of 10-14, let’s say a male child for example. Summer comes along, and you as a parent are faced with two types of films; kiddie stuff that won’t appeal any more, or the latest blockbuster action film which, not to sound like a prude, has some slightly uncomfortable parts despite its PG-13 rating. What do you do? Two new films, Transformers: Dark of The Moon, and Zookeeper illustrate this point to a tee.

The latest Transformers film, the third in the series, is meant to atone for the second film in the series, which was universally panned by critics, audiences and even the filmmaker and his actors. Telling the tale of alien robots (the Autobots) who are in “partnership” with the United States in keeping the world order, these entities live under constant threat of their evil doppelganger robot enemies (the Decepticons) rising anew. A mysterious crash site on the dark side of the moon serves as this chapter’s set piece. Rewriting history, much in the same way the recent X-Men reboot did, the filmmakers attempt to ground their story in a potential reality, all the better to sell toys, I assume. In between the numerous explosions and wild effects of this 2 hour and 37 minute film, a few moments of human interaction exist, including gratuitous shots of actress/model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s posterior. While we all know this is a film for boys, grown up or not, it seems a bit odd to constantly be injecting hot women into a film about alien robots and explosions.

By contrast, Zookeeper, starring Kevin James and Rosario Dawson, is about as tame as it gets. A chaste kiss or two is the extent of any sexual tension, as it should be in this PG rated comedy. James plays a hapless zookeeper who was dumped because of his job by his very attractive girlfriend (Leslie Bibb). Five years later, when Bibb resurfaces and sets sights on James, the zoo’s animals decide to help him win her back with lessons from the wild. Displaying their ability to speak (breaking the code), they school him as a way to stop him from leaving the zoo for greener pastures. Filled with common slapstick pratfalls, and with enough celebrity voices to keep most adults distracted (who is that bear?), the film entertains. It’s a cute, harmless summer flick that will engage kids and not bore parents to death, which is refreshing.

But, coming back to the original question of how much sex is appropriate in summer films, I’m not sure what the answer is. I know it felt awkward in Transformers, like a little nudge, as if to say “hey, look at the hot new girl” but did it serve the story line? Uh, no, but perhaps that’s the point of summer films. It’s not about the plot, its about what will get boys back in the theatre to see the movie again and again.

Transformers & Zookeeper are both playing at Cinemark Cinemas at El Con Mall, 3601 E. Broadway Boulevard. For showtimes visits Cinemark.com.

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About Herb Stratford

Arts and culture writer and film reviewer. Historic theatre restoration consultant. Artist and arts educator.
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