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Zoo flick radiates positive tone (VIDEO)

In today’s real estate market, there are some obscure houses. Some are shaped like shoes, others are made from old airplanes, some are even upside down, but how about a house with a zoo for a backyard?

In the film, We Bought a Zoo, released Dec. 23, 2011, Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) is a recently-widowed journalist at a struggling newspaper. His 14-year-old son Dylan (Colin Ford) is expelled from school for drawing a mural depicting an extremely violent scene, which the principal calls “his fourth strike.”

In an attempt to escape the surroundings, which remind him of his wife, Mee goes house hunting with his 7-year-old daughter, Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones).

With his life savings and inheritance in his back pocket, he buys the zoo. Rosie instantly loves the house, the animals and the zoo staff. Unlike his sister, Dylan shrinks back to his artwork, despite meeting a 13-year-old girl named Lily Miska (Elle Fanning) who works at the zoo.

The lead zookeeper of Rosemoor Animal Park, Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson), fills Mee in on what needs to happen at Rosemoor in order for it to be approved for re-opening. Long story short, they need a lot of money. Against his brother Duncan’s (Thomas Haden Church) will, Mee spends all his family’s money on renovating the park.

When the zoo fails a surprise inspection by perfectionist Walter Ferris (John Michael Higgins), it becomes apparent that even more money would be needed than originally thought.

The zoo’s accountant Rhonda Blair (Carla Gallo) informs the rest of the crew that Mee is completely out of money and that it is only a matter of time until he abandons them. When all seems lost, a miracle happens, but I won’t spoil it for you.

I loved this movie; I would go back and see it again in an instant. Despite my love for high-octane, adrenaline filled action movies, I’m a sucker for a good old fashioned tear-jerker.

Transferring a true story into a movie can be a very difficult task, but I think that director Cameron Crowe did a great job of showing all aspects of the story, keeping all characters in the loop and staying true to the original tale.

This being said, the whole movie stayed on a nice, even pace, unlike many books-turned-movies that seem to drag on and on. It deviated from this boring strategy by keeping the plot up and running.

The characters were well-casted, especially Matt Damon as the lead. It was nice to see him in a movie like this after the Bourne trilogy, which was almost as far from this movie as possible. Emotional scenes can sometimes destroy a movie, but in this case, they made the movie; thanks to the actors.

I really liked the overall family feel. There are multiple scenes in which the zoo staff is presented as a united team, always looking out for each other. They’re all in the adventure together, and nobody gets left behind. Except for one person, who kind of stabs everyone in the back.

Oddly enough, I don’t really have anything negative to say about the film other than the overall sad atmosphere. The viewer is constantly nagged by the loss of Mee’s wife thanks to reminders popping up in the form of pictures, old articles of clothing and just when characters would talk about it.

Despite the sadness, the movie is enjoyable to say the least and might even bring a few tears.

We Bought A Zoo runs at 116 minutes and is rated PG for language and some thematic elements. For tickets and times visit

For more movie reviews, read the Jan. 9 article, ‘Game of Shadows’ continues quirky detective’s tale (VIDEO).

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  • L

    Lexie EllisJan 27, 2012 at 12:02 am

    From the stands, it totally looked like a nice delicious carmel apple. But once I saw all the princess’ face, I knew something was wrong with it! All those girls are brave to eat that carmel covered onion. I probably wouldn’t have been able to do that! So good job Maddie!!

  • A

    Ashley ScottJan 27, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Way to beast it up, Maddie!

    New Mexico