Movie Review: We Bought A Zoo

Movie Review: We Bought A Zoo

We Bought A Zoo


PG for language and some thematic elements.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Running Time: 2 hours 4 minutes

Based on a true story, Benjamin Mee is a recently-widowed father who moves his family to a beautiful estate miles outside the city. The only catch is that the estate is also a rundown zoo complete with 200 animals. On top of that, in order to buy the home, the new owner must also keep the zoo and its entire staff. While getting off to a somewhat bumpy start, the Mee family sets out to rebuild and refurbish the zoo to its former glory.

A Feel Good Type of Movie

It’s not often we call a movie a “feel good movie”. We Bought A Zoo is a story about love, grief, family and moving forward. But, the bottom line is with the various story lines this flick simply falls into the “feel good movie” category. You can watch this movie and search for deep meaning. Or you can watch the movie for the sheer enjoyment of it.

It’s playful, it’s deep, it has meaning and it’s also just plan fun at times too. 

When it comes to acting Thomas Hayden Church is his usual slightly off-center gruff self. But, that’s what makes Church such a fascinating actor. Yes he’s somewhat predictable, but it’s a predictability that makes him likable too. The real stand out in this movie is Matt Damon who plays the lead role of Benjamin Mee. He’s come a long way since his Bourne days and this is a good thing. In the past I’ve pretty much pigeon holed Damon as a one dimensional, political pushing actor who’s best left ignored providing nothing more than turn-your-mind-off type movies. But during the past few years it seems Damon is exploring multi-dimensional roles which from time to time pull at your heart-strings too. While all of the roles have not been home runs and while his portrayal of real life Benjamin Mee isn’t a huge stand out type performance, this could be called at least a stand up triple.

Aside from Thomas Hayden Church and Matt Damon the rest of the cast in We Bought A Zoo all put in wonderful supporting role performance. Of notable mention is Scarlett Johansson. In the past she’s usually put in what could best be described as “tart” performances. But she really shines in this movie in the supporting actress role of Kelly Foster. The bottom line is, the cast of We Bought A Zoo really helps put this movie over the top. Even the wide-smiling real estate agent adds a certain flair to the movie that would be lost if he weren’t there.

Family-Friendly But Not For The Young

When it comes to rating – with a PG rating we are calling We Bought A Zoo family-friendly. However, keep in mind this is a PG movie not a G movie. While there are no hugely questionable parts in the movie, this is really aimed at the early-teen and adult crowd. Early teens will enjoy the animal aspect of the movie while adults will appreciate the touching story line. But for the real young, they will probably get bored with some of the love-story themes.

Overall we really enjoyed We Bought A Zoo. The trailers make it look rather amusing and it was a nice surprise to discover a movie with surprising, but not push it down your throat depth. There’s even a nice little surprise ending too.

Enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.