Written by / 12/27/2011 / No comments / , , , ,

WE BOUGHT A ZOO

year: 2011 cast: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson rating: ***
Here's a farfetched premise remarkably based on a true story that includes a good cast, great tunes (including Bob Dylan), and loads of the usual sunny optimism ala director Cameron Crowe to make even the biggest flaws not matter.

Matt Damon, six months after losing his wife, takes his two children – a sweet little girl and a brooding teenage boy – to find a new house in a new town. Turns out their dream home is on the property of... a zoo!

Most of the film deals with the restoration and coping with the sporadic obstacles including an uptight inspector who could shut everything down; an aged sick tiger; a dangerous bear; and worst of all, dwindling funds.

Scarlett Johansson is a nice distraction, serving more than the obvious love-interest. As chief of operations and the only real expert on board, she’s the one character who keeps it all moving.

It’s fun seeing the zoo morph from a shamble to the real thing, but overlong scenes dealing with the teenage son – too deep and honest to be realistic – ruins the overall flow... As do moments when the little girl tries way too hard to win the cutie pie of the year award.

But with all the people and animals on board, it’s really Damon’s solo venture: In dealing with the memory of his wife while battling constant snags that could keep his dreams from coming true, he's a down-home protagonist to not only care about, but root for.
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