Yesterday afternoon I planned to see a movie with a friend. I was in charge of looking up movies, theaters and show times. I narrowed it down to "Young Adult" and "Melancholia." I could sense my movie buddy wasn't really jazzed about either choice, so I started reading off others. When I mentioned "We Bought A Zoo" she lit up. I hadn't even considered this as the movie is rated PG and it felt to me like Matt Damon decided to do a movie so his kids could see it, not because it was an incredible script.
No matter, it was clear my movie date wanted to see it, so we headed to the Fenway theater and bought our tickets.
When we opened the door to our theater, we were the only people in there not accompanied by a child. Well, that's what you get for seeing a PG movie on a Saturday night! The previews were all for animated movies and all I could do was laugh.
The movie began and I have to admit, within the first thirty minutes, I was completely hooked. Matt Damon (my middle school crush) plays Benjamin Mee, a recent widower who wants a fresh start for him and his two children. He decides the best way to start over is to move. In searching for a new house, he discovers a special property - a home attached to a zoo.
Obviously you know from the title of the movie that Benjamin does in fact buy the zoo and move there with his children. The zoo is run by a single, twentysomething zoo keeper, Kelly. Kelly is played by Scarlett Johansson. Other than her performance in "Match Point" I am consistently underwhelmed by Scarlett Johansson and I was here.
For me, the star of the movie was child actress Maggie Elizabeth Jones who plays Benjamin's seven year old daughter, Rosie. Rosie is the light and effervescence in a family bogged down by tragedy. She is silver lining to this family's every cloud. Director Cameron Crowe has a knack for casting cute kids. Remember Jonathan Lipnicki in "Jerry Maguire"?
The movie has a 100 percent happy ending, which I was reminded by seeing this, is what happens in every PG movie! Ah, to be a kid again.
As the credits rolled I learned the movie is based on a true story. I had absolutely no idea. That made me like it even more. You can read Benjamin's book "We Bought A Zoo" and you can even visit the zoo yourself!
"We Bought A Zoo" is a feel good, family movie. There are several laugh out loud moments for both children and adults and the Matt Damon we all fell in love with in "Good Will Hunting" exhibits the same quiet charm and charisma he did back then.
If you've got a niece, nephew, cousin or child you babysit and you're looking for a fun break from the winter cold, take them to see this movie. Be warned, they may leave wanting a tiger. I know I did.
*Images courtesy of About.com, EW.com, HollywoodMomBlog.com, SheKnows.com andTVGuide.com.