Posted by: Scott Groves | January 3, 2012

Movie Review – We Bought a Zoo

Scarlett Johansson.  End of review.

No, seriously – Scarlett Johansson, that should be enough motivation to get any male in America to go see the movie.

We Bought a Zoo was a fun date movie.  I enjoyed the film even as it took some emotional cheap shots – which worked of course.  I found myself tearing up a time or two, especially during the very well-done scenes between Benjamin Mee (played by Matt Damon) and his on-screen son.

Although loosely based on a true-story, I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering throughout the film.  I did not think there was anyway this story could have actually taken place in California.  The number of regulations that cover the care of exotic animals must be over-whelming and nearly impossible to navigate.  At several points throughout the film, this logistical impossibility made the movie feel less genuine.

Sure enough, upon returning home, Wikipedia confirmed that this story actually occurred in the English countryside.

That piece of trivia aside, I actually have some personal rooting interest in the success of this movie.  Several of the key emotional scenes (especially a great one at the end of the film) were shot at a co-worker of mine’s restaurant in Los Feliz called Little Dom’s.  It was cool to see a place where I’ve eaten frequently serve as the back-drop for parts of the film.

Even more exciting is that the art-work drawn by troubled teen Dyaln Mee (played by Colin Ford) was actually done by an old high-school friend of mine named Clinton Carney.  Clint, whose dark style and disturbing art-work is making its way into Hollywood mainstream, always thought his work would make its debut in a horror movie.  Pretty funny that his art’s biggest cameo to-date came in a romantic comedy.

Overall I give the movie 3 out of 5 stars, which Netflix scores as a “like”.  Obviously my opinion is a bit bias, but go check it out if you are in need of a quick date idea.


  1. Nice review. Without Cameron Crowe on the director’s chair, or the whole cast that this flick assembled, I honestly think this would have been just another cheesy, schmaltzy, and way too sentimental pic. However, it’s heart is in the right place and I found myself fairly pleased leaving the theater.

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