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Thursday, June 21, 2012

We Bought a Zoo - A Review

You know you've just watched a feel good movie when the credits have rolled and well, you actually do feel good.

Cameron Crowe directed We Bought a Zoo starring Matt Damon and Scarlet Johansson, tells the tail of Benjamin, a solo Dad, 6 months after the untimely death of his wife, desperate enough to break away from the familiar surroundings that haunt him with the memory of her - by buying a zoo.

Benjamin is a writer with a history of chasing adventure but the purchase of the zoo anchors him to the adventure of real life as he, his son and daughter and die-hard zoo staff race against time (and depleting finances) to bring the dilapidated menagerie up to standard.

The rebuilding of the Zoo works as a great juxtaposition against his own personal struggle to rebuild his relationship with his son and to finally let go of his lost but not forgotten wife.

For years my experience of Matt Damon has been marred by Trey Parker and Matt Stones portrayal of him as an enthusiastically jiggly marionette puppet who answers every question with an announcement of "Matt Damon!" but I am glad to say that this film has finally broken that spell and as a Dad myself I could really connect with his portrayal of a father trying blindly and desperately to do the best by his kids without the compass of his wife to guide him.

Maybe I clicked with the film because minus the loss of his wife this is the exact sort if thing I'd like to do if I was crazy and rich enough.

Anyway, the slow romance between Benjamin and Johansson's character is tasteful and not at all gung ho, but only adds to the warm emotional goodness of the film. Given the most recent thing I have seen that features Scarlet was Avengers, I was most impressed that she could so easily lose the Black Widows sultry demeanor to play this farm girl version of the girl next door. She actually looked like a normal person, blemishes and all. Good acting Scarlet!

My wife and I couldn't help but joke that we both expected John Cleese or Kevin Kline to suddenly waltz into a zany scene due to it's vague and very distant similarity to the 1997 comedy Fierce Creatures, except that this happens to be the serious version and actually based on the true story of Dartmoor Zoological Park in Devon, England. Although We Bought a Zoo is in California, USA. So the connection to reality is only a loose fit..

Although wikipedia describes this movie as a comedy-drama I'd have to say it's not really a comedy at all - not that funny but not too serious either given the deep themes if life, death and letting loved ones go.

Over all I give this film a 7 out of 10 because I can't be bothered disliking it. So if it's not worth the effort of negativity it must be because it was a good film for my wary soul.

With that I'm off to check the realty papers for my own zoo.

For now here's a link to the trailer, will imbed later!

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