We Bought A Zoo

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WE BOUGHT A ZOO—-Benjamin Mee’s 2008 memoir had ‘Movie adaption!’ written all over it, and writer-director Cameron Crowe’s 2011 do-up makes for a surefire crowd pleaser, with a personable cast, can’t lose story and a buncha’ animals. What’s not to like?

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Distraught widower Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) makes a fresh-start move with his two kids. The house they fall for comes with a caveat: it has a zoo on the grounds, complete with staff.  Will the kids adjust?  Will romance bloom?  Will the revamped zoo meet those danged inspector visits and pass muster?  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, or much past third-grade, to guess, but it’s all done with such warmth and life-affirming uplift that you’d be a real crab not to fall for it.  Damon is sturdy as always, Scarlett Johansson is a total charmer, Thomas Haden Church is deft as the worried brother of the zoo-man. The kids are all swell, the animals great to watch.  A treat of a family film, with enough real-life pain & reality added in pinches to keep mawk at bay.  Good soundtrack of tunes.

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A fun 124 minutes, with Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Angus Macfayden, Elle Fanning, Patrick Fugit, John Michael Williams, Carla Gallo and Peter Riegert.  Produced for $50,000,000, it racked a neat $120,000,000 from satisfied crowds.  Naturally the film made some changes to Mee’s true story to better accommodate the screen: the real-life saga is worth checking out as well as the flick.

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