We Bought a Zoo (2011), Now What? (DVD)
There are several ways one could classify We Bought a Zoo, the 2011 family film starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson. Some may call it heart-warming and a “feel-good” film; others might insist it’s manipulative and syrupy. As jaded and cynical as I can be, I have to admit I’m in the first group. We Bought a Zoo is a movie I could watch with children and not feel uncomfortable because it was either too adult for the kids or too childish for me.
Based on a true story, We Bought a Zoo introduces the Mee family. The mother recently died, father Benjamin (Damon) quits his job, teenaged son Dylan (Colin Ford) is depressed over the loss of his mother, angry, and expelled from school, and seven-year-old daughter Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) is both cute and precocious without being too much of either. Thomas Haden Church is Benjamin’s annoying brother Duncan, the accountant who tries to convince Benjamin that buying a zoo may not be a sound financial decision.
When Benjamin and Rosie go house-hunting, they find the perfect house for their family, not knowing that it comes with a zooful of exotic animals including camels, lions, tigers, and bears. Their real estate agent tries to dissuade them gently and diplomatically, but Rosie is in love with the house and the animals, and Benjamin (who has always been an adventurer) decides to give it a try. Dylan, on the other hand, is less than thrilled. Resentful that he will have to move far from friends, his participation in the move and enterprise is reluctant at best.
A runaway bear, a geriatric tiger, financial woes, unexpectedly liberated snakes, and a churlish inspector conspire to make things even more difficult than Benjamin expected when he bought the place. Fortunately, zookeeper extraordinaire Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson) and an incredibly talented and agreeable crew are there to help him prepare for the zoo’s grand re-opening.Continued on the next page