Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church
Director: Cameron Crowe
Running Time: 124 mins
We Bought A Zoo is an American film about widower who moves from his home with his two children and buys an old zoo, aiming to bring it up to shape ahead of its grand public reopening.
At the outset, We Bought A Zoo seemed to me like the sappiest, cheesiest piece of drivel Hollywood could possibly come up with. And yet, by the time the credits rolled, I was tearing up as an enormous smile beamed across my face.
So, how on earth is We Bought A Zoo as genuinely lovely as it is? Well, there’s a lot that makes the film go down so, so sweetly, but the place to start is without doubt its gorgeous performances.
In the lead role, Matt Damon is sublime as an adventurous but still traumatised widower, proving an immensely endearing central personality with his endless determination in readying the zoo for opening balancing perfectly with his incredible and above all wonderfully genuine growth as the story unfolds.
The film is based on a true story, and although it’s almost certain that bits have been changed for the big screen, We Bought A Zoo does an amazing job at really making you care for its main character, and by consequence the people around him.
Because, as good as Damon is here, this movie isn’t a one-man show. Alongside, Scarlett Johansson gives what might her most endearing role ever as the animal park’s chief zookeeper, while young leads Colin Ford and Maggie Elizabeth Jones are fantastic in a pair of surprisingly complex roles.
But good acting isn’t enough to make a cheesy premise a genuinely moving and delightful movie, so what else is there to We Bought A Zoo? Well, director Cameron Crowe brings his best game, sprinkling some gorgeous nostalgia and above all bittersweet drama through the movie.
Complete with a soaring yet bittersweet musical score, We Bought A Zoo develops from a fairly sappy family movie into a real tear-jerker, but the kind of film that takes you through the most challenging parts of life, to reward you with a big smile.
The formula here is far from original, and you’ll be able to tell which way most of the story goes. But there’s real depth and above all heart to every beat of We Bought A Zoo, and that’s what makes it so utterly endearing, and just powerful enough to just about move me to tears. So, that’s why I’m giving it an 8.0 overall.