Tuesday, February 4, 2014

We Bought a Zoo (2011) [PG] ****


Adventure writer Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) has recently lost his beloved wife after a long illness. Now he's a single parent with a thirteen-year-old son Dylan and a pre-teen daughter Rosie. Dylan resents the loss of his mother; he draws dark, violent images and has begun stealing. Thinking that perhaps a different environment would help Dylan, Benjamin buys a rural house that comes with a run-down zoological park, complete with nearly fifty species including tigers, a grizzly bear and a lion. It also comes with a rag-tag staff of half a dozen, which haven't been paid in months. Rosie loves the zoo but Dylan is not happy; he misses his friends. The zoo needs serious renovation and it cannot reopen until it passes an inspection. Together with head zookeeper Kelly (Scarlett Johansson) and her staff, and his reluctant brother Duncan (Thomas Haden Church), Benjamin starts to work. But the zoo is a money pit and after spending his inheritance, Benjamin is running out of money and time.

Based on a true story written by Benjamin Mee, with a screenplay co-written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and director Cameron Crowe, this is a pleasant, and at times moving, family-oriented film. It has animals, children and fine performances from Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, but it suffers from the lack of emotional honesty and unpredictability that made Cameron Crowe's earlier films (Say Anything..., Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Elizabethtown) so compelling. This film will certainly appeal to pre-teen children who love animals. If you've enjoyed films like Fly Away Home, Nim's Island, or Dolphin Tale, then you'll likely enjoy We Bought a Zoo


[Blogger's rating: *** out of 5 stars.]


Labels: drama, family 
Internet Movie Database 
Metacritic 58/100 
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=63, viewers=76) 
Blu-ray



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