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We Bought a Zoo

Posted: February 23rd, 2013, 6:27 pm
by mrsl
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I wasn't sure if I should put this under Comedies or Drama, because it deals with several serious matters but with charm, wit, and conscience. Matt Damon who I believe has become one of our finest actors, is a very recent widower looking for something to kick-start his family again with Mom gone. Everybody seems to be going their own way, so he buys a rundown, nearly closed for eviction zoo, currently run by a real rag tag group of animal lovers who have no way of keeping the place they love, opened. Thinking he will just go in with the money and someone else will actually handle the day to day operation, his daydream world is quickly brought up to reality. Matt has proven to be a terrific action hero (the Bourne series), an intelligent side-kick/crook (the Ocean series), and now a loving although unsure father. His teenage son naturally resents being taken away from friends and the city, and his little girl (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), is the winningest little dolly to come along since Dakota Fanning was in her single digit ages. Maggie Elizabeth has red, Shirley Temple curls, and a smile from ear to ear. She, of course falls in love with all the animals and even gives names to a brood of peacocks (most of which are named Peaches). Another amazing actor on hand is Scarlett Johansson. This lady is so lovely, and such a fine actor that she obviously will give up anything for her craft, including makeup and hair styling. she doesn't seem to care what the role calls for, she is there to do it in a sequined gown or a halter top and cut offs, with her hair in braids and I can only say "This girl is an ACTRESS". And lastly Thomas Haden Church finally playing a fairly sympathetic brother to Matt Damon in his attempt to rebuild his relations with his kids. Thomas doesn't usually do this kind of role, at least not that I've seen.

The story has all the pitfalls of sick animals, rundown buildings and fences, too little money, and a nasty animal warden who is just itching to shut the zoo down. It's never really made clear why he hates the place so much, but he's the ultimate villain. As it goes on though, Matt just blithely continues making friends in town and all around with the determined idea the the zoo will re-open on July 7. And his working crew is working hard trying to believe in him and his dream of re-opening, though they are some quirky characters in themselves.

I don't know why this movie appealed to me so much, but in the short time that it's been on the cable premium channels, I've watched it about 4 times already and I'm looking for it at Walmart to come down to their usual sale prices. Maybe with my love of westerns and the shoot-em-up mentality, plus the way the political world is going, I've probably been ready for a real, family love oriented movie to sink my teeth into. Naturally a minor crush occurs on Scarletts part, but Matt makes it clear it's too soon after his wife, but KIND OF changes his mind near the end, at least that's the impression I got. Of course it's a very recent movie from 2011, directed by Cameron Crowe, and written by Aline Brosh McKenna, but they offer up a charming, interesting story that holds your attention quite well, and gives you a restful change from all the CGI, and blood and guts that surrounds us today in the movies. Even the death of a treasured animal is handled with taste and thoughtfulness.

I heartily recommend this one for rental, especially for the whole family (including small children) to enjoy some boring Saturday night. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the mechanics and finer points of production. I just sat back and enjoyed as I do with a movie like Stars in My Crown for pure entertainment.

Comments would be appreciated to learn if others were as charmed as I was.
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Re: We Bought a Zoo

Posted: February 23rd, 2013, 11:10 pm
by movieman1957
I wish I could share your enthusiasm for it but I only thought it okay. Too long and a bit far fetched for me I did at times find parts charming. I'm with you on Damon. I haven't seen a great deal of his pictures but he is sure enough in what he is doing.

Glad you enjoyed it.

Re: We Bought a Zoo

Posted: February 25th, 2013, 12:31 pm
by Maricatrin
Mrs. L., I haven't seen this particular film, but the basic premise of redeeming a derelict zoo reminds of "The Wacky Zoo of Morgan City", from Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. It's a very enjoyable two-parter, which has been shown on the Disney Channel but has yet to see a DVD release. Joe Flynn and Wally Cox make a great comedy team as the self-serving Mayor and his clueless stooge, and Hal Holbrook is very likable as their initial dupe who turns the tables on them (by eventually making good with the Zoo, which the Mayor hoped would close when he selected a zoo director with no animal experience.)

Re: We Bought a Zoo

Posted: February 25th, 2013, 12:53 pm
by sandykaypax
I liked We Bought a Zoo, too. I am a fan of filmmaker Cameron Crowe, and while I didn't enjoy Zoo as much as his films Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire, I love the way Crowe has of revealing relationships in a realistic and humorous way.

I agree about Scarlett Johansssen--such a natural actress. I recently saw The Horse Whisperer for the first time, which she made when she was just a kid. Lovely movie. Also, Matt Damon--LOVE HIM! Such range--comedy, drama, action.

Sandy K

Re: We Bought a Zoo

Posted: February 25th, 2013, 1:44 pm
by mrsl
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Mary-Kate:

Your Disney production idea might have offered a suggestion or two to the writer of We Bought a Zoo, but this movie was basically a love story between a father and his motherless children and how to create a family atmosphere with only one parent available. The 'bad guy' was a pisant, but didn't plan any blockades to the Dad, just a stinker about going by the book. But, since I haven't seen your movie, I could, and probably am, wrong. Thanks for your response.
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Sandykaypax:

I'm kind of surprised Scarlett turned out as lovely as she did. She was not exactly a pretty teen, but she is gorgeous now. And like Matt Damon, she too, has a wide range of talent - comedy, drama, action.
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Re: We Bought a Zoo

Posted: February 25th, 2013, 6:51 pm
by Maricatrin
mrsl wrote:.
Mary-Kate:

Your Disney production idea might have offered a suggestion or two to the writer of We Bought a Zoo, but this movie was basically a love story between a father and his motherless children and how to create a family atmosphere with only one parent available. The 'bad guy' was a pisant, but didn't plan any blockades to the Dad, just a stinker about going by the book. But, since I haven't seen your movie, I could, and probably am, wrong. Thanks for your response.
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Or, very likely, it could be that the screen writer never saw Wacky Zoo of etc., and any similarities were only in my imagination. :) The protagonist in Wacky Zoo had an intact family (even though he and the mom were on rocky ground for a little while), and there seems to be a different focus in each film.

I have a soft spot for zoos in general; some of my fondest childhood memories are of visiting my grandparents at their home in Jersey, from which we would often visit their small local zoo ... though one can hardly describe it as small anymore, it's grown considerably over the years!: (http://www.capemaycountyzoo.org/)

Re: We Bought a Zoo

Posted: February 26th, 2013, 7:22 am
by JackFavell
I didn't realize it was a Cameron Crowe film. I really loved Almost Famous, but didn't enjoy Jerry McGuire one bit, but then I really dislike Tom Cruise. There's a place in the world for charm, as long as it's not the sticky kind.