Lions, tigers, bears, peacocks, zebras, and more bears, oh my! Would you believe running a zoo is hard? Seems like it. Cameron Crowe sometimes changes things up with each passing film he directs. While he hasn’t made a great one since Almost Famous, it looks like he’s finally back on track as We Bought a Zoo was a charming family picture.
As this is a true story, Benjamin Mee actually bought an actual zoo. Sounds crazy, yes. But there’s something about it that makes it special in its own way. Matt Damon’s Benjamin is a widower after losing his wife to cancer. As he still has his kids, Dylan (Colin Ford) and Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), he just wants to make a new life for himself. So what’s the craziest thing he could think of? He bought a zoo.
Is the story pretty predictable? A little. But it makes for a good dramedy, in my case. Personally, Damon was excellent and likable as our main guy wanting to help his family while fixing up this zoo. He was emotional as a father, what can I say? Overall, a great performance. The rest of the cast is really good including Scarlett Johansson as Kelly, who runs the zoo and hopefully a potential love interest for Damon. Patrick Fugit (great to see him back in a Crowe film since Almost Famous) as a worker with a monkey on his shoulder. The Best performances came from Elle Fanning as Johansson’s cousin Lily, who likes Dylan, and Thomas Haden Church as Damon’s brother Duncan, who makes any scene feel lively. Elizabeth Jones was perhaps the cutest girl in a movie this year and I loved her performance.
On a storytelling aspect, it’s fine for what it’s attending. But you get so invested when it keeps on going. With any Crowe film, it’s no secret the film will have a solid soundtrack, and it did with a great score from Jónsi. Listening to his music in the past, it’s beautiful. It’s sweet when it needs to be as it has anyone make an effort of making possibilities happen.
Plus, this gives the best advice in any movie as Damon says, “All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage to change your life.” Simple, yet true. At least this is the best movie this year that has “zoo” in the title that’s not Zookeeper. Crowe does a good job with directing the locations of the animals and having some good dialogue with the characters.
We Bought a Zoo is sweet and moving for Crowe’s filmography that’s given some good depth into this story.