Who doesn’t love Matt Damon? He has been in some great films, “The Departed”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “The Bourne Series” and “The Martian” to name a few. He is one of the biggest and best in Hollywood and has seemingly done it all. But today I’m going to focus on one of his lesser known roles. It’s based on a true story and is “We Bought a Zoo”.
The title pretty much sets the story up, a father and his 2 kids move from the hustle and bustle of the city and move in to a dilapidated zoo. Obviously there’s more to it than just that. We learn at the beginning that his wife sadly died of cancer, his teenage son is struggling with everything life throws at him, the zoo is due to be re-opened and is unsure if he is financially able to do it.
Let’s kick things off with Mr Damon who plays Benjamin. You’ve seen Damon play a dad in many of his past roles but there’s something about this one that makes him stand out. As a father trying to juggle everything in his life and not wanting to let anyone down, Matt gets the character spot on and you are rooting for him from start to finish as the story progresses.
Benjamin’s eldest son, Dylan, played by Colin Ford is the moody teenager who was annoying, whiny and constantly moaning, BUT being a teenager this is exactly what they are like (we’ve all been there) so a great job done by Colin.
The youngest daughter Rosie, played by Maggie Elizabeth Jones is such a delightful character. This little girl is incredibly cute and has some hilarious lines, my personal favourite is calling a zoo inspector “a dick”, she’s brilliant and a joy to watch.
There’s plenty of the zoo’s staff as well, including Scarlett Johansson trading a black leather body suit for a pair of wellies and a bucket. The sweet as ever Elle Fanning stars as Lily, who falls for Dylan and see’s the sunshine in everything. And Angus Macfadyen as the hilarious Peter MacCready who enjoys his scotch, playing darts and plotting revenge on the zoo inspector.
Director Cameron Crowe has done a wonderful job with this, it really hits you where it hurts and is able to pull at your heartstrings in exactly the right places. The settings and scenery were beautiful and you couldn’t help but be whisked away by his imaginative yet simple story telling.
The highlight of this movie for me is the soundtrack, created by Sigur Ros’ frontman Jonsi, each track is as beautiful as the last. It captures the film perfectly and really draws out further emotion from each scene. The song “Sinking Friendship”, played when Benjamin is going through old photos of his wife, was as much a joy to watch as heart-breaking.
If I had to really pick holes in this, then it would be that it’s seen as being a bit too cheesy and that sometimes the soundtrack is the best part of a particular scene which depending on what you want to get out of this movie, could be seen as a downside to the film.
I assumed that the zoo was in America but found out that the park is based in the UK. It’s called Dartmoor Zoo in Devon, I haven’t been yet but I will and when I do I shall no doubt sob the whole day. Even thinking about visiting almost brings a tear to my eye.
Overall it gets a roaring 5 out of 5 stars, this is almost the perfect Sunday afternoon movie (albeit a bit of mild swearing) and it should have most people reaching for the tissues. If you were to look up the word nice in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure that “We Bought a Zoo” would be one of the definitions.
Thanks for reading.