We Bought a Zoo (2011) – Film Review
Director: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Colin Ford
by Matt Callard
It’s probably a reaction to the (slightly unfair) wholesale slating that previous movie, Elizabethtown, received that Cameron Crowe has delivered We Bought A Zoo, an unashamedly cute, flow-chart generic family adventure.
But it’s also to his credit. Why shouldn’t he, if the notion appeals to him, make an eager to please film about a father (Matt Damon) who moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo?
Not to say the film is all sugar and no spice. The bond between father and sun is deliciously heart-warming. One scene where he forbids his son from using the word ‘whatever’ plays out beautifully. A confrontation with a 600lb grizzly bear is suitably awe inspiring. And, when fireworks do fly between father and son, the relationship is so well formed it’s genuinely distressing.
“Uncynical, with a big heart”
Course, it has its moments of schmaltz. And when Scarlett Johansson turns up as the world’s sexiest zookeeper (and available too!) it’s hard to suppress a groan.
Yet this flawed but uncynical movie has a big heart and some genuinely lovely moments. If it’s a sell out, at least it’s a noble one.