Lions, Tigers and Bears ... no, really!posted by Thom on Friday December 30th 9:44am
We Bought a Zoo.
An intriguing movie where Matt Damon takes a break from bad guys and guns. Well, he gets a gun for a moment. The important thing is he doesn't use it.
Matt plays Benjamin Mee, an adventure junkie journalist turned widower with two children, Dylan and Rosie; played by (Colin Ford and Maggie Elizabeth Jones). Benjamin, not Ben ... that's his father, is having trouble coping with his new life as well as his new role as full-time father. His son delves into his own issues that drives Ben to drastic measures.
In an epiphany, Benjamin packs his children up and moves them to the boonies to live on their newly purchased zoo, complete with 47 different species of animal including; Saloman the Lion, Spar the over-the-hill tiger, and Buster the 750 pound grizzly bear.
The movie could easily have driven down the rom-com road. There was some comedy, especially from Benjamin's brother, played by Thomas Haden Church, who certainly brings the dramedy. There was just a hint of romance as well between Kelly Foster, played by Scarlett Johansson, and Benjamin as well as between Dylan and Lily, a quirky adolescent played by Elle Fanning. Overall though, director Cameron Crowe, and his writers manage to stick to the story at hand, "how a zoo saves a family while a family saves a zoo."
While the storyline is based on a true story it's not groundbreaking and neither is the character development. It's the actors who bring the "wow factor" to the screen. // Gotta stop watching Storage Wars. // Matt shines as the affable Benjamin who slowly realizes that his wife made it all look simple and easy. Maggie makes the screen sparkle everytime she's on it, and I don't mean in a weird vampire way. Colin explodes in his shouting match with Matt. I'm sure it wasn't easy to accomplish an elaborate and heated argument with Jason Bourne. Scarlett plays the passionate zookeeper but lacks a bit of passion in her performance. She does create good chemistry with Matt so that bolsters her performance.
Notable performances from extras:
Angus Macfadyen as the very angry enclosure designer, Peter MacCready. Macfadyen is a classic angry Scottsman in this but he does excel at it.
John Michael Higgins as inspector, Walter Ferris. Higgins amuses me in most every role he gets.
Will I see this movie again in the theater? I doubt it. I'll wait till it makes it to DVD.