'We Bought a Zoo' Shockya.com Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello
Director: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johannson and Colin Ford (TV’s ‘Supernatural’)
Raising a teenage son and an elementary school-age daughter can be tough for anyone, but when their mother dies from a long-term illness, caring for them can be even harder. Former newspaper columnist and widower Benjamin Mee, who is always looking for an adventure, struggled with his venture of caring for his two children after losing his wife. After deciding to open a zoo to reunite his family, and writing a book on the journey, ‘We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals that Changed Their Lives Forever,’ screenwriter-director Cameron Crowe skillfully adapted Mee’s story into a feature film.
‘We Bought z Zoo’ follows Benjamin (played by Matt Damon), who’s struggling to raise his two children-his 14-year-old son Dylan (portrayed by Colin Ford) and his seven-year-old daughter Rosie (played by Maggie Elizabeth Jones). He is left to care for them on his own after his wife, Katherine (portrayed by stephanie Szostak) becomes ill and dies. After deciding to quit his writing job at the local newspaper, as he doesn’t fell fulfilled there anymore, Benjamin decides to make a fresh start for his family by buying the Rosemoor Animal Park. With the help of head zookeeper Kelly Foster (played by Scarlett Johansson), Benjamin not only fixes the deteriorating zoo, he also works at mending his broken family.
Crowe ultimately captured Benjamin’s determination not to give up on his dream, and continued willpower not to fail his family or the animals. Throughout the course ‘We Bought a Zoo,’ whether he’s fighting with Dylan about moving back to their old suburban neighborhood and their “normal” life, or disagreeing with Kelly about how to properly take care of the animals, Benjamin remains a central figurehead for the entire zoo family. The comedy-drama shows that no matter what obstacles people may face, if they believe they can succeed, they’ll be able to find a way to make any situation better.
Casting the part of Benjamin was the most important aspect of making ‘We Bought a Zoo’ believable, and Damon was the perfect choice for the role. A father himself, the Academy Award-winning actor understood his character’s need to never give up on his commitments and responsibilities, whether helping rebuild the zoo or his family. While Benjamin’s open to hearing Kelly’s suggestions on how to improve the animal’s care or the reasons why Dylan is hesitant to start a new life at the zoo, Damon also makes it clear that his character will ultimately do what he feels is the right thing.
While Damon is believable as an adventure-seeking, humorous father throughout the course of ‘We Bought a Zoo,’ his most memorable scenes are when he’s emotionally connecting with Ford. The young actor, who’s remembered for his recurring role as the young Sam Winchester on ‘Supernatural,’ is also well cast in his role as Benjamin’s son. Dylan represents many teenagers who feel their parents don’t understand, or want to listen to, their needs and wants. Ford perfectly captures Dylan’s desire to rebel against his father and anyone else who tries to become close to him. The tension building between the two throughout the course of the film accurately reflects the hostility many parents and their teenage children feel towards each other.
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