Cameron Crowe is back! The enigmatic director of classics such as Say Anything, Jerry Mcguire, Almost Famous and the vastly underrated Vanilla Sky has been on hiatus since 2005. I guess being the director of Elizabethtown reserved Crowe a spot in the Witness Protection Program. In my opinion, Crowe’s resume clearly gives him a well deserved “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
We Bought a Zoo is based on the true story of risk taking writer Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon). Six months after the death of his wife, Mee takes a life altering gamble by purchasing and moving his two children Rosie and Dylan( Maggie Elizabeth Jones and Colin Ford) out to the country side. The only catch? The house he purchases is a run down zoo. His hope is to make the zoo operational while giving his kids a “true American experience” The problem is that Mee knows LESS than nothing about what it takes or cost to run a fully functioning zoo. With a small crew led by head zookeeper Kelly Foster (a Spandex-less Scarlett Johannson) and a zoo consisting of over 47 animal species, Mee sets out to create a new life for his family and save a dying zoo in the process.
Word of mouth on We Bought a Zoo is going to be really strong. The audience I saw this with cheered and sniffled the whole way through. This is a movie you have to take the whole family too. All of the actors here are fantastic, but the definite show stopper is Maggie Elizabeth Jones as 7-year-old Rosie. She will either make you laugh or break your heart. She steals every single scene.
Yes, there are some calculated Hallmark/long distance phone commercial moments that cynics will bring to the table, but it really is a small flaw. What is wrong with a little saccharine around Christmas? If you want to walk out of the movies with a smile on your face this holiday season, go to the zoo!
Final Word – 3 1/2 Stars