Sunday, 14 June 2015

No.221 : We Bought a Zoo

We Bought a Zoo at the IMDb

This likeable family comedy drama tells the true tale of an American family who buy a zoo. What? It was British people and the action has been changed to make it look like Americans are the heroes? It’s U-571 all over again!

To be fair I wasn't looking for a documentary of the economics of purchasing a zoo so let’s see if it’s entertaining at least.

Matt Damon plays Benjamin who is all sad after his wife died before the action started. He is caring for his two kids, one of who is a cutie pie small girl and the other a dickish teenage boy who gets expelled from school for stealing and being a gun toting psycho in waiting.  He enlists the help of an estate agent but rather than a helpful one he gets Leon out of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ who manages to stop swearing for his short part. After literary a few houses they are bereft of hope but wait, there’s one left! - but it’s a dilapidated zoo. Let’s buy that then!

The family move in with indecent haste and start to realise the extent of their commitment. A prick of a zoo inspector, who is clearly just doing his job, tells them to fix stuff up what with all the man eating animals and all, and they also have a tiger who isn't feeling Grrrrreeaattt!

Luckily the zoo staff are all lovely apart from the bitch of a bookkeeper who is rightfully sent to Mexico for pointing out they have run out of money. Helpfully they find a few bucks the dead wife was hiding, and soon we are making progress. Minor setbacks like a bit of rain and an escaped bear hinder their progress or at least pad the running time before it is eventually time to open - will anyone show up or will McDonalds cart off the animal cast members for burgers over the credits?

I didn't really fancy this film when it was released as it looked a bit like the whole plot is divulged in the title. In truth it was but it was still enjoyable and I have to confess to a small tear in the eye when it all turned out well, which it was always going to do.

Damon is fine as the grieving father although his zoo buying antics do seem a bit out of character - still who hasn't woken up with the odd zoo or funfair in their property portfolio? Scarlett Johansson doesn't get a lot to do as the love interest keeper and although she has been de-glamourised somewhat, this served only to give the impression that her character smelled of horses.

I didn't like the annoying son whose arc was unbelievable or Angus Macfaddyen who didn't convince as the drunken Scotsman, which was quite a feat given he’s Scottish. Better were Thomas Hayden Church as the sceptical brother who eventually gets on board after deciding he likes people more than animals - probably a good idea legally speaking too, and John Michael Higgins as the evil zoo inspector who wasn't so bad really.

It would be a hard hearted reviewer who isn’t positive about this happy tale of redemption and killing tigers, so given my heart is virtually mush it’s two thumbs up from me!

Best Bit : I liked the extending tape measure best.

‘W’ Rating 17/23

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