I love these “inspired by a true story” films! I really do. To me, it’s like what the news would be like if they only reported inspiring stories or just simply good news (as opposed to the news done well). This film is definitely family entertainment, and very worth the watch. The story follows a widower (played by Matt Damon) who looks to relocate his family to give them a fresh start following the death of his wife. When he finds the house that he and his daughter immediately fall in love with, there’s a catch: in order to buy it, you have to buy the zoo that’s attached to the property. For the love of his family, this widower decides to go for it.
“Zoo” has all the clichés that you’d expect, including a love interest for the young widower and another for his teenage son. Sometimes though, that is what makes a feel-good movie worthwhile. Would the film be made more enjoyable by taking those elements out of the movie? Nope. Would showing the real story make a movie? No – that would make a documentary. So, knowing that there is an abundance of clichés and that the story is largely fictionalized, you can now enjoy the movie.
Ignore all the other criticism of this film – and quite frankly, I am sick of Rotten Tomatoes and its % score based upon reviews. Cameron Crowe is at the helm and for me that means a lot. I trust in Cameron to deliver a film that I will FEEL. If you don’t immediately recognize the name, here’s a short list of other films he’s crafted: “Elizabethtown”, “Jerry Maguire”, “Say Anything”, and “Almost Famous”. Ring any bells? I bet that list did more than that; I bet you started thinking of the music from those films. It’s true that Crowe incorporates a lot of really great music into his films, which in turn makes them movies that carry a lot of resonance with them. (Come on, who can forget John Cusack holding up that boom box and playing “Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel???) This is why I say that since Crowe helmed “Zoo” it was bound to be a film that would reach me on a deeper level than a lot of other films.
There’s the usual tension building up from the story of a guy who knows nothing about running a zoo and the knowledgeable staff. There’s a race against time to get the place fixed up to pass its inspection with a terror of an inspector. There’s also the strife between a teenage son and his father who have difficulty communicating with each other. Then there’s the love stories thrown in. It may be very formulaic with a generic happy ending, but I honestly just liked the movie.
I recommend this film for those in mood for a sweet movie with a pretty great cast and an inspired story. Don’t fret about the details, and instead focus on how the movie makes you feel. “We Bought a Zoo” is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.
- We didn’t Buy a Zoo (charliesblog.net)