The only reason a film entitled We Bought a Zoo was on my radar is because I like Matt Damon.
PLOT: After the death of his wife, Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) and his children Dylan (Colin Ford) and Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) decide to move house. They find their dream home in the countryside, the problem is, if they buy the house they are legally obliged to take on the menagerie of animals which reside on the lands. With money and time swiftly running out Benjamin must try and get the dilapidated zoo back into shape before inspection day whilst trying to repair his damaged relationship with his son. END PLOT
We Bought a Zoo is based on the true experiences of Benjamin Mee. If I had of known about the novel before watching the film a misplaced sense of snobbery sprinkled with lack of interest would have prevented me from reading it.
The plot moves along at a decent pace and there is never any doubt that it is heading towards a happy ending. The family drama is engaging but doesn’t stray into over sentimental territory and there are plenty of light hearted moments to balance it out.
Films like this are always hit and miss. Although We Bought a Zoo is based on Mee’s personal experiences from a film point of view it doesn’t particularly offer us anything we haven’t see before.
What saves We Bought a Zoo is the casting. If this film had fallen into the hands of, dare I even type it, the likes of Ben Stiller I would not have watched it.
Matt Damon handles the dramatic moments with ease and doesn’t overact in the comedy moments - he carries the film with ease. There is a very well put together scene in which Benjamin is looking through his family photos and it was very moving due to Damon’s silent performance.
Benjamin’s children are played very well by Colin Ford and Maggie Elizabeth Jones who is officially the cutest child on the planet.
Thomas Hayden Church brings some dry wit and this is the first time Scarlett Johansson has not bored me although she was, as is the norm, completely bland.
The weak link in the film is John Michael Higgins’ inspector whose over the top “comedy” performance didn’t fit in with the grounded tone of the film.
The animals were cute although very much in the background save for Spar, the zoos dying tiger. I appreciated this as animal related comedy just isn’t my thing. It is a testament to Cameron Crowe that he didn’t have the desire to include poo jokes – a drugged up bear is as close as we got. Thankfully.
Either my tastes in film are changing or I am becoming soppier as I am barrelling towards my
late mid twenties but I liked the film a lot more than I probably should have. We Bought a Zoo gets a decent 7/10.