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Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones ... see more see more... , Angus Macfadyen , Elle Fanning , Patrick Fugit , John Michael Higgins , Carla Gallo , J.B. Smoove , Stephanie Szostak , Michael Panes , Kym E. Whitley , Todd Stanton , Lauren Sanchez , Peter Riegert , Roberto Montesinos , Desi Lydic , Erick Chavarria , Samantha Fox , Dustin Ybarra , Ben Seeder , Alice Marie Crowe , Michelle Panek , Gary D. Robertson , Nicole Russell , Reid Peters , Taylor Victoria Cerza , Steve Bessette , Hal Alpert , Leslie Trotter , Steven Lee , Katherine Yerves , Caroline Hanna , David López , Benjamin Mee , Ella Mee , Milo Mee , Sammi Yorn , William Crowe , Curtis Crowe , Johnny Cicco , Alexia Barroso , Thomas R. Baker , David Dustin Kenyon , Shannah Barrett , Christie Kittelsen , Michelle Pickens , Gabriel Escalante , Bart And Tank , Crystal , Katie , Ninja

This holiday season, acclaimed filmmaker Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous) directs an amazing and true story about a single dad who decides his family needs a fresh start, so he and his two... read more read more... children move to the most unlikely of places: a zoo. With the help of an eclectic staff, and with many misadventures along the way, the family works to return the dilapidated zoo to its former wonder and glory. -- (C) Official Site

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72% liked it

130,520 ratings


66% liked it

153 critics

DVD Release Date: April 3, 2012

Stats: 4,708 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (4,708)

  • August 20, 2014
    Let's be honest, Crowe's older films had much more energy, honesty and unpredictability. Here, you know immediately what you are getting, and you are getting a lot of it. Family drama, cute animal humor, romance, and the notion that hard work can make you achieve anything. That's... read more naive and sometimes even a bit annoying. And yet the film ends of engaging you after all, because of the likable characters and Crowe's instinct to use the right song for the right scene. By the wonderful ending the film has won you over and you can't help but sit there with a bug stupid grin on your face. It then adds a real tear-jerker of a final scene that gives it all more depth than you got for two hours before that. Quite a feat.
  • December 29, 2012
    I've always enjoyed Cameron Crowe's work; he has a nice touch that brings a unique viewing experience. With We Bought a Zoo, he crafts a fun little film that does show limitations and could have been a bit better considering the premise of the film. Despite this, this is a fun li... read morettle film that has heart and is among Cameron Crowe's best in several years. Crowe has always had a good eye for what makes for a fun crowd pleaser, and though this is far from perfect, he manages to deliver a film that should appeal to the entire family. There are parts that could have been reworked a bit, but overall this film works well enough to be worth seeing. With that said, the film is a heartwarming drama that really is well acted and is truly terrific. Acting wise, there are some very good performances and Matt Damon really delivers something special here. This is an underrated film that is fun from start to finish. I very much enjoyed watching this, and I felt it had enough elements to make this a worthwhile feel good movie. Cameron Crowe knows how to create something special and he captures a wonderful story. With a great cast, great acting and an interesting plot, We Bought a Zoo overcomes its imperfections to really bring out a very well crafted drama. Expect a wonderful film and don't believe the flack the film has received because it is a true life story that is simply engaging and memorable.
  • December 1, 2012
    This was okay to watch once. Drags on a bit, but story is nice and cast are good.
  • September 4, 2012
    Much of the story involves our sweet kindly, dear old Dad, trying to get the zoo open and ready for business on time. It's a setup so manipulative, you'd swear it was a screenwriter's device. But We Bought a Zoo is actually adapted from the autobiographical memoirs of writer Benj... read moreamin Mee. The based on fact undoubtedly adds some credibility to the events. Unfortunately the production is so annoyingly twee. The swelling melodies that hammer the emotional cues of every scene doesn't help. Apparently the director thinks the audience needs assistance in understanding that when positive things happen, it's a good thing. This is the mistake of a rookie, not an established talent like Cameron Crowe who was once a rock journalist for Rolling Stone during his teen years. His knack for meaningful song selections is well-established which makes the overbearing musical numbers even more depressing. There's also mean old Walter Ferris, the zoo inspector, who's responsible for administering a strict zoo inspection before they can open to the public. The costume designer forgot to give him a handlebar moustache to twirl each time he does something nasty. And let's not forget that cute moppet of a daughter who cheerfully chirps "We Bought a Zoo!" like she knew it would be the title for this film.
  • June 20, 2012
    Absolutely wonderful!! A feel good, sentimental, sweet, funny movie. Very, very enjoyable!
  • May 28, 2012
    Cast: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Patrick Fugit, Colin Ford, Elle Fanning, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, John Michael Higgins, Angus Macfadyen, Peter Riegert, Stephanie Szostak, J.B. Smoove

    Director: Cameron Crowe

    Summary: In this adaptation of Benjamin M... read moreee's memoir about buying and saving a run-down zoo, the locale shifts from Britain to southern California. However, the wacky spirit of the original is retained, complete with escaped tigers and a zoo crew of misfits.

    My Thoughts: "A sweet movie about a family struggling to move on and heal. The relationship between father and son is strained and tense. But I think the son is acting out for attention. He is upset and grieving, but having difficulty dealing with his feelings. I think the father, Benjamin, turned a blind eye to it. He seemed more focused on his daughter Rosie (who is played by an extremely adorable Maggie Elizabeth Jones) and her happiness more so then his sons. He even metioned to Dylan that he needed his help to make her happy. That was sad to watch when the son, Dylan, is screaming for him to help him be happy.
    I didn't see why Dylan and Lily needed to have the scene of declared love. Seemed unnecessary for the film and forced. Just cheesy."

    "You know sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage."
  • May 23, 2012
    Director Cameron Crowe is certainly no stranger to maudlin sentimentality. I have found a few of his films rather good though. I enjoyed "Singles" and "Almost Famous" and despite some critical panning, I found "Vanilla Sky" to be a bit of a darker delicacy from him. Even "Jerry M... read moreaguire" was decent. However, the abysmal "Elizabethtown" didn't sit too well at all and I thought Crowe couldn't crank up the excessive mushiness any further after that. I was wrong.
    Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) is a widowed father, bringing up his two children by himself, after losing his wife to cancer. Things aren't going well though as his son gets expelled from school and he feels the need to quit his job on an L.A. newspaper. He decides that a fresh start is needed for them all and takes his two kids off to live in a run-down country house with a run- down zoo attached. It seems like lunacy at first but Benjamin decides to refurbish the place and bring the zoo back to life.
    There is a question that's asked between two characters at the end of this film... "If you had to choose between people and animals. Who would you pick?" On this evidence, I'd chose the animals. The cheese factor is so high on the people that they may aswell be walking chunks of four week old camembert. I swear I could see the mould on them. The performances aren't bad per se but Crowe's direction is so high on the schmaltz that I was crying out for a Travis Bickle to come and wash this scum out of the park. Someone to just take this zoo "and just... just flush it down the f**kin' toilet." Damon puts in his usual, likeable, everyman job and shows good emotive moments. The rest of the cast are also quite appealing and even Johansson's pout is kept to a minimum. The only glimmer of anything natural here though, is the animals. Everything else is completely manufactured tosh. As mentioned, the problem lies in Crowe's direction. He doesn't let the characters breathe and develop on their own. He forces you to feel for them. He feeds you more shit than it's possible to shovel at a zoo and my emotional state felt violated at his insistence. Subtle, this film is not. Stereotypical and predictable, it is.
    There's an integral, recurrent piece of fatherly advice that runs throughout..."You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."
    Maybe Crowe shouldn't have actually applied this advice to himself. He may have taken that twenty seconds of insane courage but something 'great', certainly, DID NOT come of it. There is one word that's correct about that quote though... 'Embarrassing'. Crowe must be in the midst of mid-life crisis or something. It's the only way you can explain such nauseating cloyingness. Is he compensating for something, or did mommy and daddy not pay him enough attention when he was a child?
    If you have a sweet tooth, then this will be a real treat but otherwise, stick to something with a bit more zest and sharpness.
  • May 22, 2012
    Directed (co-written) by Cameron Crowe, 20th Century Fox, 2011.

    Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Angus Macfadyen, Carla Gallo, Elle Fanning and John Michael Higgins.

    Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family

    Question: What would you do if your daughter s... read moreays to you when looking at a group of people having a good time, "Their happiness is too loud"? First your heart would sink and then you would do anything, even if it was considered crazy, to make sure your kids are happy again.

    Months ago I posted the preview for We Bought a Zoo and was waiting for it's release. The story looked a little too sweet but every once in a while you need a movie like that - a feel good movie. Plus, it was a Cameron Crowe movie and I have enjoyed many of his movies. On Christmas day I finally saw it. (Side note: it's been my family's tradition for decades to see a movie on Christmas day and this year I wouldn't pass up another opportunity to see a movie.)

    I usually don't use a quote from movies I have just seen, but the one I used in the first paragraph sort of struck a chord with me and I had to share it. There are actually many great lines in this film although many I feel were forced and trying a little too hard to tug at one's heartstrings. But I was sort of expecting that once I saw the preview.

    Short summary: Matt Damon plays Benjamin Mee, a widower raising his two children 6 months after his wife passes away. He then tries to change their entire living situation to better his children's mental state (and his) so he buys a home that happens to be in the middle of a zoo that requires major renovation. There is a lot of family turmoil between the father and son; and the man is so lost without his wife that he barely functions with getting over his own grief.

    The father's intentions to help his children overcome their grief should evoke a lot of strong emotions. If you have children and they are suffering, as a parent, you will do whatever takes to help them. Sacrifices and attempts at trying anything to make them happy is an essential part of being a parent especially when you are the only parent who can help. However, the weight of that is extremely heavy and Matt Damon did a convincing portrayal. Fortunately, there was a lot comic relief throughout the film to counterbalance the drama.

    Over all I enjoyed this movie but wish it would have toned down the sweetness factor a tad bit. Nonetheless, I believe many will find We Bought a Zoo the perfect family movie. In fact, my children both gave the movie 9 out of 10 -but the animals may have helped swayed their vote a little. They were cute.

    Based on the book and true story: We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives Forever by Benjamin Mee

    My favorite thing: The daughter is simply precious - she stole every scene.

    My least favorite thing: The film-makers tried a little too hard to force a romantic set-up between two characters.

    Rating: PG
    Length: 124 minutes

    Rating: 5 out of 10
  • May 8, 2012
    Family friendly feel-good film based (loosely) on the true story of Benjamin Mee and the Dartmoor Zoological Park near Sparkwell, England. The script, sentimental as it is, makes little use of its exquisite cast. I expected more of Cameron Crowe.
  • fb100000145236770
    April 27, 2012
    You can always tell a Cameron Crowe movie from other movies. "Almost Famous", "Jerry Maguire", "Elizabethtown", are all different movies with similar traits. Some comedy, lots of sentimentality, usually a cute kid, and great music. "We Bought a Zoo" has all of that. Matt Damo... read moren stars as a widower who is left with his two children, and looking for a new place to live. So, he decides to buy an abandoned zoo, and works to reopen it. The movie is filled with animal humor, sweet moments with his kids, and Scarlett Johansson being dreamy as ever. His daughter is the cutest kid I've seen in a movie in a long time. Perfect casting overall. It's a great family movie, that people of all ages will enjoy. The movie does drag a little here and there(like most Crowe movies), but overall it's entertaining. Not Crowe's best movie, but worth a watch or two.

Critic Reviews

Cath Clarke
March 13, 2012
Cath Clarke, Time Out

Crowe, to his credit, is more concerned with insights about family than romance - and some of these are heart-on-sleeve touching if you've got a sweet tooth for the stickier stuff. Full Review

David Denby
January 9, 2012
David Denby, New Yorker

Nothing that happens in this movie is in the least surprising, but it's all quite pleasant and even, at times, moving. Full Review

Rafer Guzman
January 5, 2012
Rafer Guzman, Newsday

The movie has animals, kids and fine acting from Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, but it lacks the emotional honesty and unpredictability that made Crowe's early films so irresistible. Full Review

David Edelstein
December 30, 2011
David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture

Damon and Colin Ford as his teen son have an affecting hesitancy, their hearts hovering between the living and the dead. Full Review

Rene Rodriguez
December 28, 2011
Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

The picture annoys you, but it also wrings happy tears, because Crowe pulls at your heartstrings in crafty ways. Full Review

Calvin Wilson
December 23, 2011
Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Crowe seems to be making baby steps into new territory, both stylistically and emotionally. Full Review

Rick Groen
December 23, 2011
Rick Groen, Globe and Mail

A professional actor in the best sense, always credibly grounded, Damon is much better than the material, and so is Colin Ford who plays the troubled son. Full Review

Tom Long
December 23, 2011
Tom Long, Detroit News

We Bought a Zoo is so filled with artificial sweetener that it may cause cancer. Full Review

Lisa Kennedy
December 23, 2011
Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

Consider it a fine sign of emotional discipline that the movie doesn't overplay Kelly and Ben's romantic possibilites. Full Review

Stephen Whitty
December 23, 2011
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

These are ideas from old movies, and presented without any of the conviction those pictures used to give them. Full Review

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    • Benjamin Mee: You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.
    • Rosie Mee: What about the easter bunny?
    • Benjamin Mee: Lets go on the road, Dylan, we'll be hobos.
    • Dylan Mee: You hate me!
    • Benjamin Mee: We had some problems but we'll figure it out.
    • Rosie Mee: Yay, we bought a zoo
    • Benjamin Mee: What I figgered out was that love it only comes once in a life time. Just can't get a handle on it.

We Bought a Zoo : Watch Free on TV

We Bought a Zoo Trivia

  • finish this quote we bought a ~~~  Answer »
  • Who starred in We Bought A Zoo?  Answer »
  • In 'We Bought a Zoo' Why was Dylan expelled from school?  Answer »
  • In 'We Bought a Zoo' Which animal escapes and needs tranquilised?  Answer »

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