Our latest watch was We Bought a Zoo, from Jerry Maguire writer/director Cameron Crowe, which was inspired by the true story of Benjamin Mee (played by Matt Damon)
The film tells how Mee is struggling as a single father, following the death of his wife, Katherine (Stephanie Szostak) The death has had a major effect on his 14-year-old son, Dylan (Colin Ford) who has now been expelled from his school. Whilst younger at 7, it also has an effect on his daughter Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones)
Benjamin had now left his job, feels he needs a new challenge and fresh start if he is ever going to be able to move on with his life.
Whilst looking at houses with Rosie & his realtor, Mr. Stevens (JB Smoove) nothing calls to them until they see a property that calls to them both.They fall in love with the house and are ready to purchase it, they are then told they should reconsider as the property is attached to a zoo, with the condition of sale that they must take it on and look after all the animals.
Benjamin is about to say but sees Rosie playing with peacocks, which he sees as a sign that this is the new challenge he needs, despite the reservations of his accountant brother, Duncan (Thomas Haden Church).
Once the Mee family move in, the size and cost of the challenge soon becomes apparent, but upon meeting the Zoo staff they accept it, with the exception of Dylan, who hates being away from his friends and resents his father, despite befriending Lily (Elle Fanning), cousin to head zookeeper Kelly (Scarlett Johansson)
Knowing that money is running out, they need to get the Zoo open as soon as possible the Zoo carpenter MacCreedy (Angus Macfadyen) & craftsman Robin (Patrick Fugit, reteaming with his Almost Famous Director) rise to the challenge.
However, money does run out, which Rhonda, the zoo accountant (Carla Gallo) reveals to the staff who get ready for the worst, not knowing that Katherine has left a large financial sum behind for her family, which Benjamin is prepared to gamble with, to make the Zoo a success.
With the Zoo ready to open, will it pass the inspection of Walt Ferris (John Michael Higgins) a strict zoo inspector? To make matters worse, Ferris is heavily disliked by MacCreedy, for he believes he stole his enclosure ideas. Finally, should it pass this inspection, will the people come?
Much like The Greatest Showman that we saw this year, this is not necessarily a brilliant film, but it an uplifting film that will leave you with a real feel-good experience as the Zoo staff and animals who had been expecting the worse, have hope in the future for this family taking a chance on them.
It’s not to say the film is without faults; we normally love John Michael Higgins, but his Zoo inspector role is just plain annoying, feeling more like a panto villain, in addition, a storyline of Benjamin and Kelly falling in love seems a bit shoehorned in, especially when the majority of film he doesn’t seem to be able to move on from the death of his wife!
The animals are great, the cast is all very likable that you will for them to succeed to bring the zoo to its former glories and we would highly recommend this great family film which features an uplifting score from Jonsi of band Sigur Ros!
Watch the trailer here:
Find the film at Amazon here:
Read the real story of Benjamin Mee here:
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