Thomas Haden Church
Out of all the investments a person can make…
We Bought a Zoo follows the true story of Benjamin Mee (Damon), a man who is trying to cope with the loss of his wife and still trying to raise his kids right. He finds this difficult to do though since every place in the town he lives in reminds him of his wife. To deal with this he decides to take a leap of faith and buy a new house which happens to be a zoo.
Benjamin and his two kids soon learn that the zoo is in bad shape. Most of the facilities are not up to regulation standards and the zoo has a chance of being shut down. So Benjamin decides to make the best of the situation and roll up his sleeves and work together with the head zoo keeper Kelly (Johansson) to keep the place open, during this time, he also has to reconnect with his son.
“We Bought a Zoo” was a film that was very difficult to get into because every single bit of it felt completely cookie cutter. The story of the single parent who wasn’t the best with the kids and his doing his best with them and the teenager is rebellious and the young kid is cute and some zany adventure with quirky characters brings them all together.
All of that is in here, yet at the very least it was done better than most films with this plot point. That being said, it made for a very boring experience. There was never any twists or turns or moments that really got me engaged. It’s not necessarily a bad story, just one that’s been done to death it seems.
I had a real problem with the characters. In my review of the film “The Descendants” I mentioned how glad I was that George Clooney’s character’s kids didn’t turn out to be annoying little brats. That is exactly what the kids are in this movie. Damon does alright in the role, however, doesn’t bring anything truly memorable to the part and the same can be said about Scarlett Johansson.
The young, talented actress Elle Fanning is severely underused in the film as well, mainly because the film doesn’t handle its subplots well. The absolute worst part of the movie though was John Higgans as the villainous zoo inspector (in a film that did NOT need a villain) who had to have everything perfect. This was where the film went from being salvageable to fully pumped out Hollywood junk.
“We Bought a Zoo” isn’t a truly bad film, however it came off as a lot of stock drama to pull at heart strings and slap stick comedy to get some cheap laughs to fill up a story that has been seen before. It gets a high 2 out of 5 for having some bearable acting.