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Zookeeper: The origins of the species

Zookeeper

Zookeeper Photo Credit: Handout

In "Zookeeper," Kevin James plays, naturally, a lovable zookeeper who's prone to pratfalls. After "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," "Grown Ups" and just about everything else he's made since "The King of Queens," that's not much of a stretch.

What sets the 46-year-old Long Island native's latest family comedy - which hits theaters on Friday - apart from the rest of his oeuvre is the enormous voice cast assembled to give life to the talking animals that help his luckless Griffin Keyes find love.

In its honor, we look at what some of the big names involved have in common with the species they're playing.

Adam Sandler as Donald the Monkey
Much like a performing monkey, Sandler lately seems to be all about pleasing the crowd. Based on his most recent and upcoming projects, he has apparently decided to quit taking risks on offbeat films ("Punch Drunk Love," "Funny People") and regressed to a stream of juvenile comedies ("Grown Ups," "Just Go With It") targeted toward an adolescent base.

Nick Nolte as Bernie the Gorilla
The gorilla is the largest of primates, a domineering force that you definitely don't want to mess with. Nolte - with his tough-guy attitude and worn, husky voice - is similarly imposing. Plus he kinda looks like a gorilla in that infamous mug shot.

Sylvester Stallone as Joe the Lion
This one's pretty obvious: Lions are strong, beastly creatures, and Stallone - who has admitted to taking human growth hormone - is comically large and muscular for a man of 65 (today's his birthday, actually, so happy birthday, Sly!). The connections run deeper: MGM, with a lion as its icon, controls the "Rocky" series.

Cher as Janet the Lioness
The lioness is the queen of the jungle, and Cher - in the spotlight forever - is pretty much the queen of entertainment. Also, the lioness hunts for its pride of lions, and Cher will "hunt" you down when she's pissed off, such as when she tweeted her anger at the Oscars snubbing a song from "Burlesque" earlier this year.

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