Director: Cameron Crowe | 124 minutes | comedy, drama, family | Actors: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Angus Macfadyen, Elle Fanning, Patrick Fugit, John Michael Higgins, Carlo Gallo, J.B. Smoove, Stephanie Szostak, Michael Panes, Kym Whitley, Todd Stanton, Lauren Sanchez, Peter Riegert, Roberto Montesinos
Director Cameron Crowe is best known for his autobiographical work “Almost Famous”, but in his first family film “We Bought A Zoo” he really lets his talent come to fruition. In a very sweet story, as we are used to from Crowe, he tells the true story of a widower who moves into a house with his son and daughter and takes over the ruined zoo that is located on the land, and then goes to renovate.
Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson have finally come of age to starring roles, although it is mainly the premise of the film that should lure the audience. Although the actors clearly enjoy their roles, they are of secondary importance to the various animals in the film. Crowe, together with screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, leaves nothing to chance to make it clear that this must be the feel-good film of the year. It was also a good choice to engage cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto – always working for Alejandro González Iñárritu -, as he overwhelms the film with a soft and warm color palette. The soundtrack by the Icelandic Sigur Rós singer Jónsi, supplemented with old and new classics by Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bon Iver is perhaps the only downside due to its somewhat difficult composition. Furthermore, there is no cloud in the sky.
The film flows and ripples for more than 2 hours, but is not annoying for a second. Even by following all movie laws and making no secret of wanting to follow all the clichés of a family movie, Crowe delivers another special movie, and that’s a talent. It seems that the director of “Jerry Maguire” and “Vanilla Sky” can finally leave his label as an eternal talent and call himself a grown-up filmmaker, with this film for the whole family about an unusual adventure. Someone will find risk-free entertainment, but “We Bought A Zoo” is beautiful, fine and sweet as honey.