Saturday, November 26, 2011

We Bought A Zoo!

Ok, well, I mean, I didn't buy a zoo...the people in the movie We Bought A Zoo did.  That's why it's called that.  They also repeat the phrase several times during the movie, just in case you'd forgotten what film you were watching.  Strangely, it's not annoying when they do it, probably because twice the line is delivered by one of the cutest little girls I've ever seen on a movie screen.  Seriously, this girl is adorable.  Look at her:
Thank you, IMDB


As you probably surmised from the title, this movie is about people who buy a zoo.  Matt Damon plays Benjamin Mee, a recent widower raising two kids on his own as a journalist in Los Angeles.  His daughter Rosie is adorable and his son Dylan is a rebellious young man with a talent for creating very disturbing art.  On the day Mr. Mee quits his job, Dylan gets expelled from school and it becomes clear that they could all use a change of scenery.  Benjamin is ecstatic when he finds the fixer-upper 9.2 miles from the nearest Target...until he finds out that the house comes with a zoo.

 Of course he buys the house anyway and decides to move his family to the zoo because animals are really cool and they could use a little adventure.  On moving day, they meet the full staff that works on the property (thank God someone knows how to take care of the tigers!), including a head zookeeper named Kelly who looks like Scarlett Johansson (played by Scarlett Johansson) and a bunch of other less attractive people who you can only really see when Scarlet Johansson isn't onscreen.  One of them was played by Patrick Fugit, though, and I think he had a monkey on his shoulder most of the time.  I do remember that.
Thanks again, IMDB

Lots of interesting things happen at the zoo as the family and staff use all their resources to get it up to code and open by July 7th.  The animals are beautiful and are worked into the film very nicely, but the best moments onscreen come in the conversations between Benjamin and his children.  Watching a family cope after losing a wife and mother is heartbreaking at times, but the way Crowe brings their memories back to life is incredibly original and touching.

Matt Damon is excellent, and the kids are some of the best young talent I've seen...ever.  The film is highly-quotable, my favorite being, "you only have to be brave for 20 seconds at a time".   Isn't that great?  It's so true.  Anyone can be brave for 20 seconds, because what do we have to lose, anyway?

I brought my 17 year-old brother with me, and he had a good time.  My 4-year old son really liked the animals and didn't fall asleep even though he was up an hour past his bedtime and there was a lot of drama.  It really is a perfect movie to go see as a family since there's no sex or violence, but mostly it's great just because it has a big heart.  What more can you ask for from a movie about a family of zoo owners?





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