We Bought a Zoo

Jason Bourne, Black Widow, and Sandman swing into action to save a zoo! This hodge-podge trio is the weirdest yet! Who can stand against them? (Fade out on all three standing proudly at the top of a hill in front of an American flag waving in the wind.)

Matt Damon actually does pretty well as a warm hearted, misguided, Val Kilmer haired father. He’s getting older, it’s nice to see him in some family movies. I’m sure he’ll be doing action movies well into his Harrison Ford days but it’s good to see him stretch his portfolio. (Take Matt Damon as an example Cameron Diaz! You’re getting too old to play the chick flick single girl, seriously!) But you know who’s not too old? Scarlett Johansson. You know who’s also a better actor than Diaz? Johansson. You know who’s been in a wider array of movies than Cam-Cam? Scar-Scar. Everything from Christopher Nolan to Michael Bay. Everything from Lost in Translation to The Avengers. So not only is she sexy, she’s talented. (I’m sorry to all the Cameron Diaz fans out there, I also watched Knight and Day this week. It upset me.)

Oh! Right! We Bought a Zoo is a good all around movie. Enough conflict. Enough gooey filled moments. It was…enough. Why am I beating this movie down?!? Let’s get one thing straight. It’s a good movie. Solid. Enjoyable. Moving even. Well casted. Pretty well shot and conceived. What’s my problem with it? It has a lot of ups and downs. A lot of minor pitfalls and minor successes. Great movies set up a well told story, make things seem like they’re getting better until they rip it out from under you, and only when they can’t scrape the bottom of the well anymore they redeem themselves. (Okay, most great movies follow that template.) We Bought a Zoo has a big ending but the set up isn’t quite there. However, I will say that the movie is incredibly predictable so maybe they needed the ups and downs to keep you glued. Is that a win-win situation or a lose-lose?

I do like this movie and might consider it for my collection, there’s no doubt about that. But the real seller is Sigur Rós. They have to be at least 200% of the soundtrack, which is an excellent choice and a factual statistic. Most of their lyrics aren’t in english but there’s no denying their ability to pull your heart strings like a bear pulls honey from a beehive. (Yes, in this analogy your heart is filled with bugs. Let’s hope you’re not allergic.) It’s almost like the movie was written specifically to showcase Sigur Rós.

As spectacular as Scarlett Johansson was, as bright as Matt Damon’s smile is, as far as Thomas Haden Church pushed the film as the supporting actor, the real gem was Maggie Elizabeth Jones who played little Rosie. She’s a bit too young to actually try and be an actor. So the lines and reactions she’s fed on set came out as genuine. The best thing I can say about her, while forking over a man card, is to say that she’s just so damn cute. She doesn’t know how to give anything but a real smile. Her laughs are all real (except for a few overdubbed in weird moments). She grounds the entire movie. If it weren’t for her, We Bought a Zoo would seem too Hollywood. If Rosie wasn’t a character, you might as well let Michael Bay direct. Maybe cast Paris Hilton. Make it another American Pie movie with Eugene Levy. Tack on keywords to the title like thong, sorority, or Snoop Dogg. You know what? Just rename it We Bought a Zoo In Space, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

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