We bought a zoo but this ain’t Devon….

WE BOUGHT A ZOO [2011]

Directed by Cameron Crowe

Written by Aline Brosh McKenna and Cameron Crowe [Benjamin Mee author]

Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Ellie Fanning, Margaret Elizabeth Jones, Colin Ford

Cameron Crowe relocated a British man’s story about buying a zoo to the USA in this family friendly film.

Matt Damon plays Benjamin Mee struggling to come to terms with the death of his beloved wife and giving his children Rosie and Dylan the best life he can. After quitting his job and deciding to move home he eventually jumps in feet first and buys a run-down zoo, complete with staff, he obviously doesn’t own them but immediately becomes their boss.

In certain quarters of the Internet this film has come under a tremendous amount of fire for being ‘twee’ and sentimental etc. Well to be fair the subject matter and the director says this is going to be sentimental, heart-string tugging and family-friendly. That is what you get. Know this before you go in and you get a reasonable film. Matt Damon is always believable in any role he plays and Margaret Elizabeth Jones is just another young child from the US ‘Cute Child Factory’. Some reviewers wanted her to be more spoilt and brat-like but to be fair that is another film. She plays the role she is meant to in this film with great effect. Besides this, the troubled child roles falls to Colin Ford who gives it his all too.

My only complaint is due to personal bias. I don’t think Scarlett Johansson is a good actor. For me she doesn’t pull off the role of the hardworking senior zoo-keeper and her chemistry with Matt Damon is very low on the believable scale. Whilst I watched the film she stuck out like a sore thumb in every scene. She doesn’t even seem like much fun in the outtakes. Having said this I fully admit I am personally biased so my thoughts on this have to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

This film is not going to stick in your memory for weeks or days after viewing but as long as you know it is sentimental, somewhat predictable and light entertainment then it does its job very well with a smile on its face.

If you like darker more gritty slices of realism – then stay well away.

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