We Bought A Zoo

by J. Civiello

WE BOUGHT A ZOO / FOX SEARCHLIGHT

U.S. Release Date:  Dec. 23, 2011

DIRECTOR:  CAMERON CROWE

STARRING:  MATT DAMON, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, THOMAS HADEN CHURCH

PROS

  • Many moms are lusting after Matt Damon now that he’s a widower with a son and a daughter.  He handles it well, and emerges whole when he is finally able to open the zoo. He opens up to his kids by sharing how he met his wife, and lets himself fall for Scarlett Johanssons’s quirky character.
  • Maggie Elizabeth Jones steals the show as  Matt Damon’s daughter, Rosie.  She is the adorable glue in the family as they all struggle with the death of their mother.
  • Elle Fanning as Lily is a warm hearted breath of sunshine as she melts son Dylan’s darkened heart – and ours.

CONS

  • Matt Damon’s performance was underwhelming, as was Scarlett Johansson’s.  Their chemistry was manufactured.
  • The story was cute, but the script was weak.  Thomas Hayden Church’s dialogue   parodied “Sideways” at times.
  • Just like they are shocked to find that their house comes with a zoo, so are we… It does not flow or seem authentic… and should flow as it is based on a true story.

FINAL VERDICT:  Disappointing.  Wasn’t horrible, just wasn’t great.  The elements  never came together.  Age difference between Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson is too great and the zoo crew is too quirky to be appealing except for the noteworthy few mentioned above.  Cute story based on true events, entered the too crowded Christmas film market and got trampled.  Might have done better at a different time of year.

Michael said, “I was excited about the premise, but the movie just didn’t deliver.”

QUICK QUOTE!

Benjamin 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.

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