Who bought a zoo? This guy right here.
It’s not often that I review family movies; there should only be so many talking dogs or talking rodent-type films allowed to be regurgitated in theaters a year. Fortunately, We Bought A Zoo isn’t one of those films. It’s a film with animals in it and it is a film based on the true story of Guardian journalist Benjamin Mee, who bought a zoo. Mee, portrayed by Matt Damon, is a single father with two young children, purchased a rural home outside the city in the hopes of a restoring his family’s spirit after his wife died from cancer.
Benjamin Mee (Damon), in the film, formally lived a life full of adventure; he worked for a Los Angeles newspaper as a writer traveling the world. Sadly, after the passing of his wife, he must take on the challenge of raising their two children, 7-year-old Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) and 14-year-old Dylan (Colin Ford), alone. Everywhere his vision reaches in his tiny town, the memories of he and Katherine together come flooding his mind. Dylan has begun to express his grief by drawing disturbing illustrations of decapitated bodies in school, and on top of that, the lonely housewives of the neighborhood seem to have Benjamin in their sights for more than comforting.
If you had to choose between people and animals, who would you pick?
He has made up his mind; there must be a change in his life. After consideration, Benjamin decides to look for a new home in California for his family to make nest in. It just so happens the real estate agent, who is equally adventurous, takes the family to a dilapidated farmhouse where exotic animals reside in lush greenery. Apparently the housing contract states whomever decides to purchase the farmhouse is also responsible for the on-property zoo. He agrees to it hastily, much to the horror of his accountant brother Duncan (Thomas Hayden Church).
The zoo staff, led by head keeper Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johannson), assist Benjamin in renovating the zoo despite being suspicious concerning possible ulterior motives–he has no experience with animals aside from the family beagle. They soon run into a roadblock; he has financial issues and it seems at first they will have to sell the property, decreasing morale in the group, however delighting Dylan as it means they can possibly return to their old home. Dylan tells Lily, a girl deeply infatuated with him, the happy news but she is brokenhearted as she doesn’t want him to leave.
In the end, Benjamin finds that he will not lose the zoo after-all. Happy ending and smiles all around. If there wasn’t then this wouldn’t be a pleasant family film.
There were snakes. But not on a plane.
Aside from the film’s predictability, We Bought A Zoo worked. The brilliant performances by an astounding cast of actors caused me to fall in love with Maggie-Elisabeth as Rosie–to the keen direction by Crowe just made the film more than a film about a guy who bought a zoo. There’s sufficient dialogue, and I am finding it hard to say something bad about this film. For some reason, this bothers me. If you were fortunate enough to get this film on Blu-ray, take a moment to delve into the extras–especially The Real Mee and watch and listen to the real Benjamin Mee tell the real story behind Dartmoor Zoological Park. An absolutely endearing tale.
As I stated before, it’s not often that I have an opportunity to review an extremely family orientated film and live to tell the tale.
We Bought A Zoo on Blu-ray is loaded with over 2 1/2 hours of special features; including deleted and extended scenes, gag reel, four behind-the-scenes featurettes, brilliant commentary by director Cameron Crowe, star J. B. Smoove, and editor Mark Livolsi. The entire film is brilliantly captured (1080p/AVC-encoded transfer) and the audio (DTS-HD Master Audio/5.1 surround) is flawless. The music, the animal sounds emanated from my speakers–totally immersible. I can complain that there’s just one song too many–but the film is just that engaging that the transitions into the musical score is also utterly flawless.
Source: Fox Home Entertainment
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