My rating: 4 and a half reels out of 5
The movie opens with Benjamin Mee (Matt...Damon) who is an adventure writer. He is full of life, seeks adventure, and has instant charisma. Someone you are easily drawn to and want to know more about. Now a struggling single father trying to raise his two young kids, he seeks a fresh start and revive family spirit by moving his family out to the countryside to renovate and re-build a struggling zoo.
We Bought A Zoo is light and heart-felt drama from Cameron Crowe. It's his first movie that is an adaptation. From the book We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a young family, a broke down zoo, and the 200 animals that change their lives forever. While it's not a movie that's based on Crowe's personal experiences, it's a story centered around family and inspiration. A perfect fit for Cameron Crowe. After going through Aline Brosh Mckenna's script, Crowe infuses his personal touch. Of course, Crowe always adds the best selection of songs and he brings out the depth and reason of his characters especially the main character, Benjamin Mee.
Matt Damon gives the character Benjamin Mee a lot of enthusiasm, optimism, and humor. Like Crowe, he is a perfect fit for the movie. Surrounding him is Scarlett Johansson, who plays the a down-to-earth zookeeper who has dedicated her life to the animals of the zoo. Thomas Haden Church, plays Duncan Mee, the play-it-safe brother of Benjamin Mee. Dylan Mee, played by Colin Ford, is very combative with his father. And Rosie Mee, adorably played by newcomer Maggie Elizabeth Jones. Rosie, like her father; is lively, full of joy, imagination and optimism. It's a little reminiscent of the kid from Jerry Maguire except a hundred times more adorable (and a hundred times less annoying). Cameron Crowe is also reunited with Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous). I honestly forgot he was in the film after seeing his name in the opening credits, he is an underrated actor. The movie also stars Angus Macfadyen (Braveheart), playing Peter MacCreedy, the zoo's enclosure designer. Elle Fanning (Super 8), playing Lily Miska. And John Michael Higgins (Best in Show), playing antagonistic zoo inspector, Walter Ferris. A huge cast but a great cast for an inspiring movie.
You can tell a lot of love went into this film. It comes out through its actors and its story. But it's not all joy, there is some sadness to the film too. The characters go through struggles. The family deals with loss. Ben struggles financially. One character deals with her feelings as she experiences her first crush. The family and zookeepers struggle against the one who impedes their goals of re-opening the zoo. The characters are lovable and you want them to succeed. The humanity of the film is overcoming adversity. We Bought A Zoo is genuine, optimistic, and hopeful. It's a movie that will leave you smiling at the end.
You will probably like this movie if:
1. You like heart-filled comedy dramas.
2. You like Cameron Crowe.
You will probably not like this film if:
1. You find nice people boring.
2. You don't like to be smothered with good hearted feelings.