The Movie Waffler New Release Review - We Bought A Zoo | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - We Bought A Zoo

Directed by: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlet Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning, Colin Ford

Recently widowed Damon moves his family into a zoo, and just in case you miss that plot point, the title is spoken in dialogue about seven times throughout.
Where he gets the money for this endeavour is never quite clear. He quits his job impulsively at the start of the movie. Why? Because he's the lead character in a Cameron Crowe script of course. He even turns down his severance pay. This Paolo Coelho bullshit really rubs me up the wrong way. I'm sick of multi-millionaires telling us all to gamble with life and follow our dreams. At one point Damon saves the Zoo by finding a deposit slip in one of his wife's old sweatshirts. Turns out she was putting away money so he would have something after she passed away. Somehow she managed to save up $84,000 without him noticing. If my spouse was hoarding away that sort of money I'm pretty sure I'd figure it out, or else suspect her of having an affair. The last time the planet experienced a financial crisis this bad we got movies like "Sullivan's Travels", "It's A Wonderful Life" and "The Grapes Of Wrath", but film-makers today treat money with a flippancy few audience members can relate to.
In the morally skewed world presented here, Damon doesn't feel obliged to put the money to the sort of use his wife may have approved of, like providing for their kids. Parenting in general is pretty loose here as the kids seem to be forced to shovel camel shit rather than attend school. But I guess this is what Crowe would call "living".
It's not just kids who get a rough deal though as the animals don't seem to be a big priority. Rushing to open the Zoo for the summer, Damon finds himself at odds with an animal welfare inspector. Yes, the villain of this movie is someone whose job it is to ensure animals aren't being mistreated for commercial gain. Not exactly Darth Vader is it?
Johansson is a feisty zookeeper who helps Damon shake off the memory of his late wife. Seems he wasn't merely grieving all this time, he just had ridiculously high standards.
Damon has a fourteen year old son who is "troubled", for reasons he struggles to comprehend. I'm no child psychologist but perhaps it's got something to do with the fact HIS MOTHER JUST DIED!
There's a precocious seven year old here too. That's a great tool for a screenwriter as it means they can write cheap and crass expositional dialogue but hey, isn't it cute!
Oh there's a Scotsman in this too. Guess what his main character trait is? Yep, he likes a drink.
If you fancy watching "Jerry Maguire" remade with more animal dung this is the movie for you. If you gag easily this is one to avoid.