***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!
We Bought a Zoo - 4 out of 5
Who doesn't like going to the zoo? Well...PETA for one. They would much rather spend their time on their soapbox talking about how they believe animals need to be free before they go off to their fortress of evil and hypocrisy and kill the animals they save and fund human society terrorists (that information is all true, look it up). So, those of us who are smart enough to not associate ourselves with PETA (and I'm a vegan and all for animal rights and even I distance myself from those nutjobs) there are those who like going to the zoo. I know I do--and before you question my dedication to animals' rights and think that zoos are prisons for animals, there are many, many, many zoos in the worlds that are about protecting animals and provide a valuable service by educating people about the wildlife that fills our world and the damaging effects we humans have on their (and our) environments.
Rant over and moving on towards my review of the Matt Damon starred We Bought a Zoo.
|Uh oh...I know that look. Damon is about to get all Jason Bourne on someone's ass.|
What child in the world hasn't thought about living in a zoo? Hell, I'm a 31 year old man and I still dream about living in a zoo. Well, We Bought a Zoo is based on the real life adventures of a man named Benjamin Mee who actually did just that...purchased a zoo. Like all films based on real life events, We Bought a Zoo takes some liberties but, for the most part, stays mostly true to the themes of the actual event. Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) loses his wife and is left alone to raise his two kids. In an effort to move on, he decides to move out of the neighborhood that acts as a constant reminder of his loss and ends up finding a small zoo up for sale. Being a man of adventure and despite the warnings given to him by his brother (Thomas Haden Church), Mee goes ahead and slams the money down. The zoo is filled with jaded employees who worry that Mee won't give his all to the endeavor. Can Mee make the zoo run properly all the while being a leader to his new employees and being the father he needs to be to his two kids? And who's going to clean up all the animals' droppings?
|"Hi, my name is Aslan...I want to talk to you about Jesus."|
We Bought a Zoo is one of those typical "hope springs eternal" Hollywood films where everything ends up alright in the end. Sure there are hiccups along the way but the sun cast is happy glow on all and all the wrongs are righted and righted just in time. In real life, we all know things rarely work out in favor of the person but we watch movies to escape reality, so a film that has a bad ending only works for dudes like me...jaded, pessimistic people like me. But since the film is based on real-life events, I guess sometimes things work out and happy endings aren't only for the fairy tales.
|Church just remembered he was in one of Sam Raimi's disappointing Spider-man films.|
Despite the overwhelming and gooey happy vibes this movie puts off, it was actually entertaining. The film does a great job of balancing the drama and the comedy so that all the emotionally scenes that have the potential to be sappy end up coming off warm and genuine and can make one smile rather than scoff at how Hollywood cliche it appears. Matt Damon does a terrific job as Benjamin Mee and really appears to be the genuine article as a father and businessman in over his head. Add to the fact that him and Thomas Haden Church really come off as a pair of real brothers and are entertaining and humorous to watch. The only real weak link is the phoned-in performance of Scarlett Johansson as the head zookeeper and possible love interest and replacement for a deceased wife for Benjamin Mee. Johansson is never flat-out terrible in her role but she brings very little to it that it seems she was trying to pull a chameleon and try to blend in with the background rather than stand proud and colorful like the mighty peacock (eh, like the zoo reference?).
|John Michael Higgins is in this...because he's in 90% of all comedies right now.|
We Bought a Zoo is sappy but fun to watch. Matt Damon is, as usual, fantastic and the combination of he and Church can easily make up for Johansson's apparent lack of enthusiasm. The film has a killer soundtrack that helps the movie move along well and all the humor within the film is innocent but still very funny. The surrounding characters are a colorful bunch who aren't utilized well enough in the story but the lack of their use isn't enough to hurt the film either. In the end, We Bought a Zoo is one of those wholesome family films that makes the perfect blend of drama and comedy.