Friday, December 23, 2011
We Bought a Zoo
Director Cameron Crowe ('Almost Famous', 'Jerry Maguire', 'Singles', 'Say Anything') returns to the world of narrative filmmaking after a 6 year hiatus with a family dramedy based on a true story about a widower, played by Matt Damon, and his two kids who buy a new home and the zoo that comes with it. So the title is quite literal. Of course they know absolutely nothing about animals or zoos, but nevertheless shrug off the concerns of Damon's brother played by the always entertaining Thomas Hayden Church, and dive in with both feet. Thankfully, a small devoted staff of knowledgeable employees, including one Scarlett Johanssen, are there to help them.
You pretty much know where this one is going at every moment, but Damon, Church, and Johanssen are always pretty watchable so it doesn't really matter. And seven year old Maggie Elizabeth Jones is clearly Crowe's next Jonathan Lipnicki, if you remember that precocious kid from 'Jerry Maguire'. Even 'Curb Your Enthusiasm's J.B. Smoove shines here, and without profanity too! Of course, there aren't any surprises, and I have issues with the ultra-unreal idea of a girl like ScarJo working at this zoo 24/7 with no social life and no boyfriend. (And Damon's single too. Gee, I wonder where that plotline is going.) But you still have a pretty good time with it and you go home happy even though nothing unexpected happened. It's a lot like a day at the zoo, actually.