Mr. Movie

'We Bought a Zoo' not as fun as real zoo

Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson lead We Bought a Zoo's cast. It is a highly fictionalized but based on a true story film about a widowed writer who buys and refurbishes a small zoo.

Reality and fiction meet in just two places, the name of the main character and the zoo.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Damon’s Benjamin Mee misses his wife terribly. Communication is non-existent with his rebellious son. Mee’s little girl is so cute you want to take her home. She feeds him sad lines about how well he isn’t doing doubling as mom and dad. Buying a zoo seems like the perfect solution.


Things work out like Disneyesque flicks tend to. Animal crises and feel-good scenes abound. Romance eventually blossoms between Johansson’s zookeeper and Damon’s Mee. And we are all thankful that Thomas Haden Church is around — though not often enough — to provide at least a spark of humanity and humor.

Director Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire) co-writes with Aline Brosh McKenna. Like Crowe, her writing career is hit and miss. She penned the excellent The Devil Wears Prada and this year’s worst movie of the year candidate I Don’t Know How She Does It.

Add this one to her "miss" category and to Crowe’s. This one is horribly written and includes a head-scratching, awkward and one of the most unnecessary ending scenes in movie history.

A good movie exists within Mee’s story. It just didn’t get made. That’s unfortunate. So few films this holiday season can truly be labeled “family film.” We Bought a Zoo is one that can. Sadly, many films this holiday season wear the label of “boring.”

We Bought a Zoo is one of them.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars

Rated PG for mature themes. It opens Friday, December 23 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, at the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.