We Bought a Zoo (Cameron Crowe, 2011)
I saw the trailer in December last year and I was excited for this one. I felt I can’t wait any longer. After being patient, finally, I just got it last month.
Cameron Crow did it again. He delivered a heart warming drama-comedy family film, We Bought a Zoo. I don’t wanna compare this with his awesome previous film, Jerry Maguire (1996). This is different.
To be honest, this film could be much better, but personally I really enjoyed it very much. The story is quite simple, but inspiring a lot. What makes this film even special is because it’s based on a true story about Ben-jamin Mee.
Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) is a writer who specialized in adventure and a father of two kids. After his wife passed away, he tries to be both a mother and a father for his son, Dylan (Colin Ford) and his daughter, Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones). In order to be able to start a new way of life, he suddenly decides to move to some large ground which has a zoo, Rosemoor Wildlife Park. Rosie feels excited about his dad’s plain, but Dylan doesn’t.
Unfortunately, the zoo has some problems in renovating and financial before it’s ready to re-open to the public. But Benjamin is not alone. There are the head keeper of the zoo, Mrs. Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson) and the rest of the staff who are available to help. They must work very hard together to make the zoo back in top form.
Let’s review it. I’ll try to be objective (and honest). The story is good. Despite of the predictable end and same formula just like another family drama, it still kept my heart warm. I learn several things from Mr. Mee. Sometimes being spontaneous and unpredictable are amazing. It can be one of your unforgettable experience in your life.
Nothing special about adapted screenplay although it’s written by a BAFTA nominee, Aline Brosh McKenna, the writer of The Devil Wears Prada.
Now, let’s talk about performances. Matt Damon leads the cast very well. I’m a huge fan of him. I do like his performance in every film (who doesn’t?). Being Jason Bourne has made him as an action star, but personally, he is still one of the best drama actor (although he hasn’t got Oscar yet for his acting). Maybe, in We Bought a Zoo, he didn’t face any challenge. His performance as a (little obese and older) widowed father is just fine.
About Scarlett Johansson, I guess nothing special about her. My favorite part is how she call Mr. Mee as “BEN…..jamin” twice.
Thomas Haden Church needs more scenes to explore his good sense of humor. Maggie Elizabeth Jones is the cutest one. She reminds me of Joey King in Ramona and Beezus (2010). Seriously, are they sisters? Colin Ford is my favorite. He’s just outstanding enough for his teenager role. Elle Fanning is ..wow. She grows up. First time I saw her as a little kid in Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu’s Babel (2007). Look at her now. The other supporting cast is good. All animals are amazing. I love the bear and the tiger:)
First time I heard Jonsi’s score, and it’s wonderful. Again, Sigur Ross’ Hoppipola works well in last minutes scene, just like Penelope (2006). I’ll go hunting for the soundtrack, both the score and songs.
Overall, it’s a good family drama film that can make you happy, laugh, warm, and maybe almost cry. If you like The Dolphin Tale (2011), also based on an animal true story, I think you’ll enjoy this. If you expect some great (better than just ‘good’) family drama film such as Little Miss Sunshine (2006) or Flipped (2010), this is maybe under your expectation.
Benjamin Mee (to Dylan Mee): “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”