With all the alien invasions, caped fighters and foul-mouthed comedies occupying the big screen it’s hard to find any real family movies anymore. Thankfully director Cameron Crowe saw the gap and put together a feel-good movie that could possibly have the bravest brute reaching for the tissues.
PLOT: Set in Southern California, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.
DIRECTOR: Cameron Crowe
CAST: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church
GENRE: Family Drama
We Bought a Zoo is based very loosely on a true story about Benjamin Mee (Damon), an intrepid reporter, who deals with the hardship of losing his wife. His two children are both handling it fairly badly, especially Dylan who rebels and acts up at school. When he is expelled Benjamin decides to move his family into a new home… an old house which happens to have its very own zoo.
Benjamin plans on reopening the run-down zoo, spending all his money on repairing and, with the help of a dedicated team of animal lovers, maintaining it. In the midst of the rush for opening day, the family discovers new friendships, in the form of Scarlett Johansson, Elle Fanning and few cute animals.
Ultimately, it’s a story that deals with the hardships of death. It will particularly strike a chord with those who have faced the loss of a loved one. It’s an inspirational story with an emotive message at heart, quite moving in several scenes.
Although nothing that happens in the movie is the least bit surprising, Matt Damon manages to charm his way into the hearts of the audience. The same can be said for Johansson, who plays a character outside of her usual mold.
Despite all the positives, We bought a Zoo manages to fall into a few of the usual potholes – clichés, sentimentality and Hollywood cuteness. Thankfully the rest of the road is paved with unforgettable charm.
While it isn’t Cameron’s strongest work at all, it is still well worth seeing.
By the way, I didn’t cry.