We Bought a Zoo

2011 • 123 minutes
4.4
1.12K reviews
65%
Tomatometer
PG
Rating
Eligible
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About this movie

Oscar® Winner Matt Damon gives a heartfelt performance in this delightful film that's based on a true story. When his teenage son gets into trouble, Benjamin Mee (Damon) gives up a lucrative newspaper job to move his family to the most unlikely of places: a zoo! With help from an eclectic staff, and with many misadventures along the way, Benjamin embarks on a fresh beginning to restore the dilapidated zoo to its former glory, while uniting his family. From the director of Jerry Maguire, We Bought a Zoo is a wonderful, warm and witty celebration of the human spirit.
Rating
PG
4.4
1.12K reviews
Kyle Vansteelandt
December 16, 2020
Loosely based on a true story (which has motivated Benjamin Mee to publish a book that was based on actual events), This family comedy drama is about a family that moves on a new life to a new start by moving to a broken-down zoo with animals and people that desperately need help and saving. Yes, this film is different compared to the true story, but it works because the story was adapted to an American audience and Benjamin Mee himself approved the changes. Another thing that makes this concept work is that it will give the American audience some fantastic cinematic storytelling with an all-star American cast, superb acting performances, memorable imagery, impressive direction by Cameron Crowe, strong characterizations that makes them so gripping, and inspiring messages about teamwork, open communication, empathy, courage (twenty seconds of it to be exact). My only issues with this movie is that Benjamin and Dylan were harsh to animals; Benjamin called an African crested porcupine and A word and Dylan kicked a live snake as if it was a soccer ball, and Rosie? well, the writers made Maggie who played Rosie say a foul word for name calling. Clocking in at over two hours, this family film could've been a poignant epic of beauty and strong emotion. Cameron Crowe did a splendid job putting so much effort to his work; providing credibility to the structure of the film to make the drama very effective. Some of the comedy is pretty good too, most of the humor is clever and truly funny. Visually, It is a beautiful movie that has that gorgeous color palette with bright sunshine to make the movie look cheery and serene. It even has some imagery and passages that I am sure that they will never leave my mind; they are unforgettable. What elevates the emotion of the movie is the wonderfully haunting music; the hypnotizing ambient score is by an Icelandic musician named Jonsi. Jonsi also wrote an original soundtrack to film as well with beautiful songs that he has written. Another aspect that elevates the drama is the great acting by an all-star cast of well known actors, and the acting is smartly directed; The way Cameron manipulated their performances with genius timing and reflecting real human actions with lifelike precision is phenomenal, as the performances deliver a convincing display of realistic drama. As a story that was adapted to an American audience, the characters here have fleshed out character development and they are very realistic indeed; Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) is a single father who really dreams about a new fresh start for his life and for his children's lives. Dylan (Colin Ford) is a depressed moody teenager who has so much dread in his flimsy life. Rosie (Maggie Jones) is a happy sweet girl who has lots of enthusiasm to her new life as she takes care of the peafowl. Kelly (Scarlett Johansson) is an excellent supporting character; she takes her career very seriously, she cares for the animals very deeply, she is suspicious about humans living in her zoo (in the case: Benjamin and his kids), and she strongly straightens the characters up with real verbal force. Walter Ferris (John Michael Higgins) is a strict zoo inspector who has a dislike for humanity and he is the main antagonist. What makes Walter and effective bad guy is that a loyal zoo carpenter named Peter MacCreedy explains the facts about what makes Ferris so bad and the personality of Ferris is strict, subtle, and very suave. Lets not forget the trained animal stars too, like Crystal the adorable tufted capuchin monkey, Bart II the imposing grizzly bear who played Buster the seven hundred and fifty pound grizzly bear, and the rest of the creature stars from the African lion to the Bengal tiger and every exotic animal in between. In conclusion: This is an uplifting comedy drama that would make a beautiful feel-good treat for the whole family. Recommended.
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Fermin Espino
November 10, 2013
This was probably the best movie I've seen, the music was beyond synced with the movie and made me tear up half, to almost all the time. The acting swayed a bit from time to time, But aside from the tiny details, It captures so many emotional traits and emotions from young to old, this is truly a classic for me and everyone else.
13 people found this review helpful
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Charlie Donavin
September 20, 2020
This is my favorite movie of all time. Not kidding it is a must see. I have listened to the soundtrack every day for years. I still get chills throughout when I rewatch. Every time. Please stop reading the ratings and watch it right now.
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