"Love and Hard Work Overcome Tragedy"
With a title like WE BOUGHT A ZOO, you might expect a light family comedy. Think again. This is a heartwarming drama about a family uniting together to overcome a tragedy, but it comes with some foul language requiring caution.
Matt Damon stars as Benjamin, an adventure driven reporter with two children trying to deal with the death of his dearly loved wife. Everywhere he goes and everything he sees reminds him of how much he misses her. His son, Dylan (Colin Ford), is troubled and ends up getting expelled from school, in part because he’s obsessed with creating gruesome drawings depicting an underworld. Benjamin’s daughter is a charming little girl who brings joy.
Hoping to get away from the neighborhood reminding him of his wife, and in which his son is descending, he begins hunting for a fresh start in a new neighborhood. With his daughter’s encouragement, they find a home that comes with a zoo and a small zoo staff. The new owner is required to care for the existing animals.
The family has to learn how to work together, even with the sadness they have from the mother’s death. Each member is dealing with this in a different way, but in the end, the new adventure of the zoo unites the family.
Heading the zoo staff is an attractive, dedicated animal lover named Kelly (played by Scarlett Johanssson). The climax rises when the zoo inspector comes and questions aspects of the zoo’s safety. This leads Benjamin to use every penny he has to save it with help from a dedicated staff working from the kindness of their hearts.
WE BOUGHT A ZOO has a redemptive message of a family uniting in the midst of a tragedy. It also has a good lesson about the reward for taking risks and working hard to make a family business venture pay off for the family. The family makes no effort, however, to seek God’s help.
WE BOUGHT A ZOO is well made that will make you cry but also smile. Although the movie has some elements of dysfunction, it’s a dramatic, heartwarming story about loving one’s family and loving other people. The storyline is clear, filled with suspense and drama, and laced with some comic moments. WE BOUGHT A ZOO has some foul language, however. Also, the one son draws macabre pictures and has problems at school, though they’re resolved by the movie’s end. Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution, especially for pre-teen children.
(BBB, CapCapCap, LL, V, S, AA, M) Very strong moral, capitalist worldview about a family uniting in the midst of a tragedy, with financial risk and hard work being rewarded; 11 or 12 obscenities and seven mostly light profanities; some violent drawings with blood, snakes get loose, bear gets loose and has to be tranquilized; one sexual innuendo regarding “hiking” and a main character implies she will not have sex with a zoo inspector to get the zoo; no nudity but a photo of a naked pregnant lady with her arms across her chest; some alcohol use and a character in a small part indicates he’s drunk; no smoking or drugs; and, child expelled from school for assorted bad behavior including doing gruesome drawings which are shown several times in the movie (the child does stop doing the drawings), some rebellion, strong family arguments, a disobedient child turns snakes loose on the zoo grounds, a beloved aging tiger is euthanized, and father and children see the dead mother in a restaurant while the dad tells a story about when they met.
With a title like WE BOUGHT A ZOO, you might expect a light family comedy. Think again. This is more of a heartwarming drama than a comedy. Based on a true story, WE BOUGHT A ZOO stars Matt Damon as Benjamin, a fearless reporter with two children trying to deal with the death of their beloved wife and mother. Hoping to get away from the neighborhood reminding him of his wife, Benjamin begins hunting for a fresh start in a new neighborhood. With his adorable little daughter’s encouragement, they buy a home that comes with a zoo and a small staff. Their efforts reach a major obstacle when an inspector questions the zoo’s safety.
WE BOUGHT A ZOO plays more like a realistic, but heartwarming, drama about a family struggling to overcome obstacles than a comedy. The uplifting storyline is clear, filled with suspense and drama, but laced with some comic moments. WE BOUGHT A ZOO has a redemptive message of a family uniting in the midst of tragedy, but the family doesn’t appeal to God. Also, there’s some foul language and dysfunctional family moments, so MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for pre-teen children.