Review: We Bought A Zoo

We Bought A Zoo

  • Starring: Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity), Scarlett Johansson, (Lost in Translation), Thomas Haden Church (Sideways)
  • Directed by: Cameron Crowe
  • Synopsis: “…an amazing and true story about a single dad who decides his family needs a fresh start, so he and his two children move to the most unlikely of places: a zoo. With the help of an eclectic staff, and with many misadventures along the way, the family works to return the dilapidated zoo to its former wonder and glory.” (collider)
  • Rated: PG for some language.
  • Trailer:

“It’s a jungle out there!…no, wait, It’s a Zoo!”

Benjamin Mee (Damon), a young father and widower, takes his two children on a new adventure when he relocates his family in hopes for a fresh start. Only, he gets in pretty deep over his head when the location of choice ends up being a struggling zoo that faces complete closure without an invested owner. An adventure junkie himself, Mee decides to take on the task and works to lead the staff, his family, and the animals with a sense of hope and belonging to bring life and joy back to the animal park, the staff, and his family…all of who are in great need of inspiration and jubilation.

What an enjoyable film! Director Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Elizabethtown) assembled a fine cast to tell this touching and family friendly story. Everyone works so well together to be a part of this fantastic and almost fairytale story that is inspired by true events. The passionate Matt Damon, the ever-gorgeous Scarlett Johansson, the continually impressive young Elle Fanning, the versatile Thomas Haden Church, and the addition of several others including the heart-stealing, joy-inspiring young Maggie Elizabeth Jones who plays young Rosie Mee all works together to captivate audiences into this film and to entertain with a touching story and wild mini-adventures with plenty of animals along the way.

Benjamin Mee faces a mulit-faceted zoo of a situation.

  • Finances: The zoo is sinking and his accountant brother (Church) consistently reminds him to get out.
  • Family: Still hurting from the most recent passing of his beloved wife, his children are on exact opposite ends of the spectrum in accepting the relocation. His daughter Rosie LOVES the zoo (as a matter of fact, she is the main reason he decided to buy the house…see the trailer). His son, Dylan, leans towards the rebellious teenager side and takes his frustration out on all around him…especially his dad.
  • Zoo: Mee must work to keep a doubtful staff, headed by Kelly Foster (Johansson), bought into his less-than orthodox leadership and drive, while also working hard to acquire the license to open and run the facilities from the meticulously unforgiving inspector before the deadline.
  • Animals: Benjamin needs to learn about the different animals, how to work with them, care for them, nurse them back to health, fortify their enclosures, and more (which are all things he knows absolutely NOTHING about). He learns to depend on his knowledgeable staff who work together and are looking for someone to care as much as they do about the animals and facilities.

Oh, and that’s not counting his own personal feelings to sort out after losing his wife, quitting his job, running out of money, trying to parent his kids, and figuring out if he can let go and look to new love (insert the hinted love interest of Scarlett Johansson’s character).

Wow, he really did buy a zoo. Like I said…an adventure.

…but a great adventure to watch, nonetheless. To realize that it is based on a true story inspires that much more hope, proving that with hard work and perseverance, a little bit of faith and love, and just 20 seconds of courage, anything is possible!

Enjoy the smiles and the roars, watching them dance and do chores, as this wonderful story unfolds.

Looking for a good pick-me up film? Take a moment to visit the zoo.

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

Score:  3.5 out of 5 stars for We Bought A Zoo

T, The Focused Filmographer

up next: Movie News Monday


  1. On the one hand, the trailer doesn’t do too much for me, but the ensemble cast’s got some good names and I do like the idea of a movie where the main character learns a whole bunch about different animals.


  2. I enjoyed We Bought a Zoo, and I’m happy that your review matches mine. Many critics said it was too “soppy” and “bleh”, but I don’t think so. Even with a bizarre storyline, I was still touched at the father-son relationship.


  3. Haha, Scott’s a bit extreme! 😛

    Good review, T. From the trailer I thought this looked like it would be a very sweet, family adventure, and something that I think I’d enjoy. I’m not sure when it’s out in the UK but I’ll let you know when I’ve seen it.


    • I really liked it. it is “a very sweet, family adventure” that I think you will enjoy. Hope it gets there soon. so odd how some films get there so much earlier than here and vice versa. Still wish I was over there since The Avengers releases earlier.


  4. A true “feel-good” movie I can watch over and over. Matt Damon and Scarlett Johanson really have great chemistry in this family fun movie!


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