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Home » Film

We Bought A Zoo

Submitted by MBergeron on December 22, 2011 – 11:10 pmNo Comment
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When Cameron Crowe made Elizabethtown it seemed like everyone damned his brave excursion into bad casting. Personally I liked Elizabethtown, especially the last act but could see why it made Crowe look like he’d shot his wad with Jerry McGuire and Almost Famous (and Vanilla Sky) and was running on fumes. Well, Crowe’s back and he still has his writer director chops in full engage mode. Only We Bought A Zoo reeks of treacle.

We Bought A Zoo hits so many family movie moments that I’m shocked the film’s rated PG for some language and thematic elements because WBAZ is as sweet, and at times unbearable, a family film since the heyday of 60s Disney films. In a weird parallel universe there’s another film this year with a similar through-line but a totally different approach: Take Shelter could’ve been titled We Bought A Storm Shelter.

Matt Damon moves his young son and even younger daughter to a country house with a zoo attached after the death of his wife. His move is precipitated by his son’s trouble at school. There’s a lot of father son conflict that boils down to an emotion charged scene between dad and progeny in the third act. The zoo has its own staff that includes a deglamorized ScarJo and a sprite Elle Fanning. Patrick Fugit, who worked with Crowe in Almost Famous when Crowe mattered, also works at the zoo and has a Capuchin monkey constantly on his shoulder. We Bought A Zoo wants to be precious and on that end it’s a success. If there’s any upside to this bestiary it’s that it’s based on a true story and the zoo depicted in the movie acts as a kind of rehabilitation facility.

- Michael Bergeron

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