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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended Heartwarming Film
I bought this film because I really liked Jerry Maguire and Vanilla Sky (also directed by Cameron Crowe), Matt Damon as an actor, and because the premise of a guy with no experience of caring for animals buying a zoo sounded interesting. Going in I fully expected to be manipulated by the screenwriter and composer and subsequently had some tissues nearby. Yes, there are...
Published 23 months ago by Pantheon

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better..
After the death of his wife and his son being excluded from school Benjamin Mee decides a fresh start is what the family needs. When he spots the perfect house for his family he insists he must buy it.. then he finds out it's a zoo!

I wanted to like this film more than I did but Hollywood ruined it for me. I knew it was based on a true story and about a zoo not...
Published 10 months ago by Zoe


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended Heartwarming Film, 10 Oct 2012
By 
Pantheon (Boston, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I bought this film because I really liked Jerry Maguire and Vanilla Sky (also directed by Cameron Crowe), Matt Damon as an actor, and because the premise of a guy with no experience of caring for animals buying a zoo sounded interesting. Going in I fully expected to be manipulated by the screenwriter and composer and subsequently had some tissues nearby. Yes, there are moments of predictability in the film; but in all cases they work because they are moments where, as a viewer, you WANT the cliché moment or predictable outcome. I thought the entire cast did a great job with the material. There was only one bit of mis-casting in my opinion; and that was Elle Fanning as Lily. She was playing younger than she actually is but is never convincing in the role. The story itself is inspirational and definitely made our household talk about how wonderful it would be to find the job of your dreams - a job you could actually love. So few of us ever get to experience that.
For anyone who loves feel-good, uplifting movies this is a must own.
The picture and sound quality are superb and the disc is region free. There are also quite a few extras, including a very interesting featurette on the real family and their zoo in Dartmoor.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BOOK VS MOVIE - TRUTH VS HOLLYWOOD, 10 Aug 2012
By 
Red Rock Bookworm (St. George Utah USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Recently saw this family friendly movie and enjoyed it. If you have read Benjamin Mee's book WE BOUGHT A ZOO you may be disappointed at the "hollywood spin". Any similarity between the book and the movie basically ends with the title.

In the book Mee's father died and HIS MOTHER bought the Dartmoor Zoo (located in the UK not California) using funds received from the sale of her home in Surrey. Mee's wife Katherine was alive at the time of the purchase and moved to the zoo with their two children Milo age six (hardly the trouble teen, Dylan, as portrayed in the movie) and Ella age four (a seven year old named Rosie in the movie). His brother, portrayed in the movie by Thomas Hayden Church is not Mee's only sibling nor was he an unwilling participant in the venture, but a willing accomplice. Also, the Benjamin Mee in the book does not come across as the devoted, loving husband and father but as a rather selfish "I want what I want" personality who willingly uproots his family again and again to pursue his dreams.

Those are just a few of the more glaring differences between book and "true story" movie. These discrepancies do not detract from the movies overall appeal (particularly if you have not read the book). As I mentioned, the movie is as warm and gooey as a hot fudge sundae and provides a great viewing experience for the entire family. Particularly enchanting is Maggie Elizabeth Jones who plays little Rosie. She is truly a delight to watch as she attempts to assume the roll of woman of the house. Another performance that tickled my funny bone was that of MacCready the volatile zoo carpenter as played by Angus Macfadyen a very talented and, in my opinion, underrated actor who has portrayed everyone from Robert the Bruce in Braveheart to Richard Burton and even did a turn as Sandra Bullocks fiancé in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

While the book provides the reader with a more in depth look at Mee, the man, and the intricate problems involved the running of a zoo the movie has a more nostalgic tone as we watch a heartbroken Matt Damon cope with the loss of his wife and attempts to raise two children while mastering a domain consisting of over 200 exotic animals. It is definitely captivating to watch and touching as well.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart Warming, 1 May 2012
By 
Dad "Just a DAD" (Bristol) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Heart-warming, moving, funny, and beautifully acted - We Bought A Zoo is a very enjoyable family movie that will both lift your spirits with its graceful humor, and make you reflect on life and family related issues thanks to the profound message it carries. It's a fantastic adaptation of Benjamin Mee's memoir, and one of the most delightful movies I've seen in recent months.

Colin Ford, who plays the troubled son, was absolutely fantastic in his role. Sympathetic and real, he really brought his character to life with his convincing acting. And so did Matt Damon. Now, I'm not a huge fan of Matt Damon, but I must admit that he really fit into this role perfectly. You could tell that he enjoyed himself and that definitely elevated his performance. Scarlett Johansson surprised me. To be honest, I did not think of Johansson when picturing Kelly Foster while reading the book. I imagined someone taller, tougher and more obviously kick-ars. And yet when I saw Johansson on the screen I knew she was the one! She wasn't her usual girly self, she appeared stronger and fiercer than ever, and I really loved that about her. She turned out to be the perfect girl for the role.

It's not very often that I prefer the movie adaptation over the book its based on, but that's exactly what happened with We Bought a Zoo. I enjoyed the book a lot, but I loved the movie even more. Maybe it's thanks to the fabulous cast and their expressiveness, maybe I loved the animals, or the soundtrack and the uplifting atmosphere it created. Or maybe it's a little bit of everything and how it all came together, exploring the complexity of life, family relationships, grief and love. I don't know. All I know is that I really loved this movie. It moved me. I feel that I learned something important while watching it. It was a magical and enriching experience and I'll definitely recommend watching We Bought A Zoo to all my friends.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic film for all the family, 19 July 2012
By 
realovesbooks (South east London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I thoroughly enjoyed this film it is great for all the family and I am sure the kids would love this as it is like a dream come true! Having said this it was just me and my partner that watched this and we were captivated from the very start. The film is both emotional because of the loss of a wife and mother but also very entertaining and funny as the family are thrown in the depend knowing nothing about animals and are now in charge of getting a run down zoo back up and running again. I am a big fan of Matt Damon and he plays a fantastic role in this film and it is also great to see Scarlett Johanson stripped back and playing a more natural role.My favourite had to be the little daugther though she was truly amazing a very talented little actor who I am sure will become a big star!

This is well worth picking up and is one of those films you will watch over and over again. This is my favourite DVD of the year so far xXx
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better.., 14 Nov 2013
This review is from: We Bought a Zoo [DVD] (DVD)
After the death of his wife and his son being excluded from school Benjamin Mee decides a fresh start is what the family needs. When he spots the perfect house for his family he insists he must buy it.. then he finds out it's a zoo!

I wanted to like this film more than I did but Hollywood ruined it for me. I knew it was based on a true story and about a zoo not too far from where I live but you come to realise how much Hollywood actually glosses over. It's easy to imagine how different a film this would have been had it been set in a similar setting to what the original story was based upon - soggy, muddy Dartmoor and not sunny flaming California! Another one of my gripes was that it was adapted for an American audience, WHY? Not everything needs to revolve around the Yanks!

Okay, rant over.

The film wasn't actually too bad, like I said it could have been better if it was executed differently. The acting was better than I was expecting. I found the little girl who played Benjamin's daughter Rosie simply adorable, she'll be a great actress one day.. There were a few predictable moments throughout the film and the ending was actually quite predictable. I think they should have chose a different actress to play Lily (Elle Fanning) I found it hard believing that she was acting as a 13 year old, I think she was supposed to be.

Saying all that, it was just a classic American film with the classic stroppy teenage kid and the adorable little girl who has the perfect timing for saying just the right things. It would have been nice if they had shown a bit more emotion about his wife's illness and passing, not super depressingly so. I was hoping for a film that was at least similar to the true story not some over-glossed, over-Americanised drivel!

If you watch this don't expect it to be super amazing it's watchable but don't feel too bad if you decide you need a coffee.. or something a bit stronger!
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heartwarming comedy drama., 8 April 2012
By 
Mr. TC Kong (Peterborough, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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What do you do when you lose your wife, whom you have loved with all your soul for over 14 years, and your life and that of your family is falling apart as a result? That is the question that journalist Benjamin Mee has to answer. His solution: relocate and buy a zoo, of course!

Based on a true story, this film recounts the experiences of the Mee family as they struggle to come to terms with life, death, loss and discovery, while trying to breathe new life into a run down zoo at risk of closure by the local authorities. We Bought a Zoo (DVD + Digital Copy) is a heartwarming comedy with many hilarious scenes. Although not listed in the cast credits on the film's website, Colin Ford and Maggie Elizabeth Jones who play Benjamin Mee's children are also worth mentioning for their fine acting - Maggie Elizabeth, who played Rosie, for instance, was adorable; by the end of the movie, I wanted to adopt her!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVED IT!, 9 Aug 2012
By 
G. Stephenson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
WE BOUGHT A ZOO is a phenomenal family film starring Matt Damon (THE BOURNE FILMS) and Scarlett Johansson (AVENGERS ASSEMBLE) and directed by Cameron Crowe. This film had some of the best acting I have ever seen! Scarlett Johnansson was perfect as the zoo owner and, as usual, Matt Damon was brilliant, this time as the lead character Benjamin Mee. The storyline was very heartwarming and feel-good! Overall this film was extremely impressive and at times very surprising! 9.5/10!

The film is a PG, but it really should've been a 12 because of the language.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tries so hard....3 and 1/2 stars, 20 Feb 2013
By 
P Beardmore (Leatherhead, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: We Bought a Zoo [DVD] (DVD)
Interesting that if you look at the cover of the DVD, it is bright and happy but there is much more going on here than a straight forward feel good movie. The Zoo is really a maguffin (it could have been a circus, cafe, museum etc etc), the real story is of how people deal with the loss of someone they love and rely on. Cameron Crowe always shows sensitivity and puts character developement right at the front and this is no exception. Some of the dialogue is wonderful and makes you want to blow the dust off "Say Anything" (the ultimate Crowe movie). Matt Damon is very solid (when is he not?) and Scarlet Johansson is very good IMHO in a hard role. The kids are good if a little too cute in places.
My main gripes (both minor) the movie lacks pace in the mid section and could lose 10 mins easily. Also, its perhaps the movie tries to do too much as we have the dark side of dealing with death with the sugar coating of a Hollywood ending and perhaps the climax is a little oversimplified.
Finally, I was interested to learn that the original story was based in the UK and it makes you realise just how much shine and gloss Hollywood likes to put onto a "real life" story. Just imagine what a different film it would have been if set in soggy Dartmoor rather than sunny USA.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'SUPERB FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT', 15 Sep 2014
By 
rbmusicman (U.K) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Every now and then a movie comes along which can be described with one word ''nice''
The film tells the story ( based on a true and on-going story ) of the 'Mee' family after wife and mother 'Katherine' dies leaving a gap in the family's life impossible to fill.
'Benjamin' (Matt Damon) decides he and his two children 'Dylan' (Colin Ford) and 'Rosie' (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) need a new start in life.
'Benjamin' sets out to find a new home, several viewings later they are shown a house that's just perfect along with plenty of ground, after hearing a 'roar' the estate agent advises 'Benjamin' that the property came with a run-down Zoo.
Well the story continues with the e immense struggle to bring the Zoo back up to scratch and hopefully re-open.
The story is touching, often funny, a great family movie.......simply - ''a must for family viewing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zooper!, 28 July 2012
This is a genuinely heartwarming and charming little tale.

I watched it on a Saturday night, arm round the wife, bag of Maltesers in lap. I've got no complaints.

This film is not the greatest, and I suspect it wasn't trying to be, but it's a true story (it needed to be, I would not have believed it otherwise) and a thoroughly enjoyable romp.

Don't mislead yourself, this isn't life changing, nor is it going to blow your hair back, but it will make you smile, make you feel better and deliver a top quality evening's entertainment. You'll go to bed happy, nagged only by the guilt of stuffing your face with far too many Maltesers.

Seriously, if you like a well made true story that lifts your spirits, then here you go. It's about as good as it gets. Enjoy.
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