Sunday I went to the movies with my daughter’s family and saw “We Bought A Zoo,” based on a true story by Englishman Benjamin Mee. We all – ages 8, 11, 12, 37, 41, and me – liked this American film version.
Californian Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) is newly widowed with a teenage boy, Dylan (Colin Ford), and 7-year-old daughter, Rosie (adorable Maggie Elizabeth Jones). All three are having difficulty trying to live without their beloved wife/mother. Dylan’s expulsion from school spurs Mee to seek another place and neighborhood for his family to start over, far away from emotionally painful memory triggers. What he ends up buying is a closed-down zoo with a rundown country house, lots of acreage, and small/large animals (some endangered), snakes, and lots of birds, which Rosie loves immediately. Dylan, of course, hates being dragged away from the city and his friends and continues to mope and draw ghoulish pictures instead of helping with getting things in shape.
For several years, although the zoo has been closed, the maintenance of its inhabitants has been continued by an interesting crew of animal lovers, including 28-year-old Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson), Peter MacCready (big Angus Macfadyen), Robin Jones (Patrick Fugit), and Lily Miska (lovely Elle Fanning). Mee, a former roaming journalist, is nonetheless up for the challenge of readying the zoo for reopening and passing inspection but is unprepared for the fast draining of his resources. His brother, Duncan (Thomas Haden Church), almost succeeds in convincing Benjamin to abandon his “circus” dream. However, with unexpected help from his deceased wife, Mee and the zoo crew are able to bring the facility up to snuff and reopen…The real Benjamin Mee and his family still live at their zoo in the English countryside
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.