We Bought A Zoo

Review: We Bought A Zoo

02 Feb 12

extract from theaterofthecommonman.com

We Bought a Zoo has an emotional intensity I honestly wasn't expecting; the relationships between father and son, and a husband grieving for his loss of his wife were completely on point. Matt Damon brings a tremendous earnestness to his portrayal of Benjamin. I like Matt Damon, why shouldn't I, he seems like a likeable bloke right? But golly he has made some bad character choices over the years; sadly he tends to gravitate towards comedic or action roles which is a shame because his work in Good Will Hunting is amongst the best dramatic acting of his generation. It's probably not fair to compare We Bought a Zoo and Good Will Hunting however is hard to find a role that has allowed Matt to open up this much since Will Hunting. To me its pleasing the majority of his dramatic cues are taken from the youngsters in this story which is a credit to the youthful actors whom he was playing against. Aline Brosh McKenna & Cameron Crowe have penned a refreshing screenplay, free from the trappings family drama's often throw at the viewer. There are some minor blips in the narratives pacing but they are inconsequential in the end. It's like the baby having it's portrait taken: all the fluffy animals are good at keeping you faced in the right direction long enough that you don't notice what's really going on. For these reasons I was surprised when Roger Ebert claimed the film as "too much formula and not enough human interest". To me We Bought a Zoo is entirely human interest, surely love and relationships & grief are cornerstones of humanity?

I would compare Cameron Crowe's ability to source and cue music to that of a Master Sommelier matching a Pinot Noir with a juicy lamb steak. Those that have seen or read about his 2000 film Almost Famous will know that it is somewhat autobiographical; he spent much of his youth reading and writing about music for magazines such as Creme and Rolling Stone. Naturally, this gives him an advantage most directors wouldn't have when it comes to scoring a film. There are moments in We Bought a Zoo where the sound track seems almost organic, that the song was written specifically for an emotional cue only to realise the song was written decades ago.