REVIEW: We Bought a Zoo

3 04 2012

Almost Famous” sure was a long time ago for Cameron Crowe, who has truly surrendered to hokey cornography with “We Bought a Zoo.”  Gone is the man who rocked our socks off with an autobiographical tale of coming of age and rock and roll, replaced with the spirit of “The Blind Side?”  Crowe deserves better than a straight shot for the tear ducts.  We deserve better, too.

He throws just about every banality in the book at us – the dad (Matt Damon) trying to be a good parent, the kids trying to thwart his every good intention, the ridiculous decision made on blind faith that just so happens to work while teaching them all valuable life lessons … only at the movies!  Especially when that crazy idea is purchasing, renovating, maintaining a zoo.  Oh, and there’s a snarky inspector played by John Michael Higgins who gets far too much screen time and threatens to destroy all their hard work.  Around his second minute on screen, you’ll want Scarlett Johansson to stop playing Kelly Foster the love interest and resume her role as the Black Widow from “Iron Man 2.”

The question here isn’t, will they succeed?  Will Damon’s Ben Mee make the zoo and his family function again?  Watch a trailer, look at a poster, read the genre on IMDb, and you’ll find out the answer to that.  The real question is why Cameron Crowe would sell his soul for “We Bought a Zoo.”  Look at his past movies and it’s clear that the man has a knack for narrative; this just plays on minimal satisfaction to the lowest common denominator at all times.  If he just wanted to make a family movie where the animals don’t talk, that wouldn’t bother me … but it’s clear that he needed to reach a little deeper into his script pile.  C+

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