Review: WE BOUGHT A ZOO
Have you ever woken up one morning and thought to yourself: I really want to buy a zoo today!? Well lucky for you, Cameron Crowe has come to the rescue with his latest movie, We Bought a Zoo.
Benjamin Mee is in trouble. His son, Dylan Mee (Colin Ford), has just gotten expelled from his school, his wife has recently passed away, and Benjamin has to get away from all the places that remind him of his wife. His brother, Duncan Mee (Thomas Hayden Church), suggests he go a little wild. Duncan could’ve never imagined just how wild Benjamin would get.
While looking for a new place to live, Benjamin and his daughter, Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), come across the perfect place to live. It is an old cottage that needs some work, but it comes with a lot of land and seems to be the perfect place to start their new life. The only problem…the place is a zoo…literally.
In order to buy their perfect cottage they have to buy the zoo with it. Luckily for them, the zoo comes with some terrific people. The zoo’s attendants include Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson), Lily Miska (Elle Fanning), and Robin Jones (Patrick Fugit). While the Mee family bonds with the animals, its the relationship with the zoo’s attendants that really means everything to the Mee family.
We Bought a Zoo is at its strongest when it features Matt Damon. Damon and his interactions with his fellow cast members carries the movie into something more than just an after-school special. He owns the screen with his search for a new life after the loss of his wife. There is also the budding romance he shares with Scarlett Johansson’s Kelly. It is never played up to be more than a strong attraction and for that it seems more realistic.
Colin Ford’s Dylan is the other focus of the story. Perhaps he was expelled because the loss of his mother made him not care anymore. He can’t seem to get along with his father and his friends prove to be lacking. He must have something going for him since he attracts the attention of Elle Fanning’s Lily. Dylan has to learn to appreciate what is in front of him instead of looking for something that doesn’t exist.
Cameron Crowe has returned with We Bought a Zoo, a family film that, regardless of its run time or vast amount of characters, manages to maintain its heart. Kids will love the animals and parents will find the budding romances interesting enough. Most of the film is pure sentimental mush, but in a holiday season that featured movies that weren’t exactly family friendly, We Bought a Zoo was a welcome retreat.