I am a fan of Cameron Crowe. Not all of his movies (I really didn’t like Elizabethtown), but just him. I thought that I would see any movie he makes regardless of subject until I saw trailers for We Bought a Zoo. How would he handle a family film? Will it be any good? The answers are well and yes.
We Bought a Zoo tells the (somewhat) true story of Benjamin Mee a journalist and recent widow who decides to buy a zoo to give his family a change of scenery that they desperately need. When he moves in he finds the zoo understaffed and in disrepair but through his perseverance and love for his family he restores the zoo and established stronger bonds with his family.
I was quite shocked at how much I liked this movie. When I saw the trailers I thought it looked a little saccharine (it is) and thought Scarlett Johansson looked a little lost (she actually wasn’t too bad). Matt Damon is excellent as Benjamin as his charm, wit and screen presence elevate what could have been a very average family film.3 out of 5 Stars
The video quality of We Bought a Zoo is very good if not quite stunning. The transfer has captured the rich detail and textures of the Zoo but you probably won’t be blown away by the presentation here.
4 out of 5 Stars
The audio is also very good. You really feel like you are at a zoo with a lot of background animal noises and very good sound placement. The soundtrack by Jonsi is stunning and really shines through in a lot of the quieter moments of the film building to almost a joyful burst at times. We Bought a Zoo was a great audio experience.
4 ½ out of 5 Stars
- Deleted and Extended Scenes: There are about 40 minutes of deleted and extended scenes. Some of them are quite charming and funny and some of them show why they were cut.
- Gag Reel: The gags and outtakes are quite funny and you will be glad that you watched them. Matt Damon’s scenes in a British accent are my favorites.
We Shot a Zoo: A feature length extra about the man who actually bought a zoo and what it was like to film with all the animals. This was really fun and I would recommend any fans of the movie to check this out.
- Their Happy is Too Loud: A featurette all about the music of We Bought a Zoo. The score was composed by Jonsi the singer and guitarist of Icelandic band Sigur Ros. As a fan of Sigur Ros’ music I was really interested in seeing the way that he works and I was not disappointed.
- The Real Mee: This is a 30 minute feature about the real Benjamin Mee. He is a very interesting man with an equally interesting story to tell.
- Audio Commentary with Cameron Crowe, JB Smoove and Mark Livolsi: If you have listened to a Cameron Crowe commentary before you should know that you are in for a good time. For the uninitiated Crowe was a Rolling Stone journalist before turning filmmaker and his reporter side comes out in his commentaries as he conducts them almost like interviews. While it does seem strange to have someone with such little involvement in a film record a commentary track (he’s in the movie for about 10 minutes and admittedly had never seen the finished product until recording the commentary), JB Smoove is just a funny person and makes this commentary quite enjoyable. Definitely worth a listen.
4 ½ out of 5 Stars
We Bought a Zoo was a really good family film. If you are looking for something that you can watch with your kids (or by yourself in a cold dark basement like I did) We Bought a Zoo will probably be a good choice. The video and audio quality are great and there are a wealth of interesting special features to further enhance your viewing experience.