We Bought a Zoo
Is it just me, or is WE BOUGHT A ZOO up there with HORRIBLE BOSSES for worst title of the last year and a half? What next in 2012? MY TRIP TO THE CO-OP? Title aside, on the surface there is plenty in this life-story to tickle anticipation: the return (and hopefully return to form) of Cameron Crowe; the ever-entertaining Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson; and plenty of animals and kids. What could possibly go wrong?
Grieving widower Benjamin Mee (Damon), struggles with the pressures of crumbling family life. Following his son Dylan’s (Colin Ford) brazen boot from school, Mee quits his job as an intrepid journalist and seeks solace for all in a new house and a new life. However, upon finding their dream property, they discover unexpected obstacles. “It’s complicated … It’s a zoo,” explains the chirpy estate agent. Yet along with the animals comes a menagerie of staff, including the impossibly attractive Kelly Foster (Johansson). As zoological complications ensue, human issues arise in equal measure as the deadline for summer opening approaches.
Despite good performances and some neat directorial additions, the uphill battle is plain to see.
Sentimentality is this leopard’s spots, served to the audience in elephant-sized portions. However, sentiment comes in two species – the genuine and the saccharine – and which side of the line this film falls on will inevitably rely on individual taste. Inspirational life story or not, in truth this film never should have been made. The lack of real dramatic tension leads to unfulfilling suspense being crowbarred in. Oh no, the snakes have escaped!!! The ideas behind the project are muddled as a conflict arises between what the story represents and what Crowe wants to focus on. Despite good performances, and some neat directorial additions, the uphill battle is plain to see. To the credit of all involved, WE BOUGHT A ZOO is dragged tooth and nail to surface level and ends up an enjoyable, if extremely patchy, film. But for a director as good as Cameron Crowe, did it really have to be this hard?
- Twilight to Twilight by Edd Elliott
- Behind the Candelabra by Keith Braithwaite
- Block Party by Edd Elliott