‘We Bought A Zoo’ – Review

I heard about this film a very long time ago and have been awaiting its release for years and it has finally been released in the UK. We Bought A Zoo is actually based on a true story, when Hollywood say the word ‘based’ they usually use the term very loosely but here it is actually pretty truthful. This is the second film released in the last couple of months that is actually from where I live, the true story of this film comes from the life of Benjamin Mee, who lives in Dartmoor, Devon, England (which they have altered to California, America in the film) and six months after the death of his wife he decides to buy a zoo with his two children, the film follows his attempts to make the zoo a place where the local community can come and visit. Not only do I live near this zoo I have actually been there and I have also met Benjamin Mee, a couple of years ago he made a speech at my school and that was when I first heard of the movie and since then I have wanted to see it, finally I have.

We Bought A Zoo is adapted from the book written by Benjamin Mee, the script is written by Devil Wears Prada’s Aline Brosh Mckenna. The script is to her usual standard, not phenomenal but alright nothing special at all. The dialogue is quite well written it is intelligent, adorable and amazingly charming.

Working off Aline Brosh McKenna’s script Damon delivers his usual brilliant performance, taking the lead role of Benjamin Mee. Damon’s performance is one of things that really carries this movie, he supplies some of the most emotional moments with some help from his amazing supporting cast. This film really shows Damon’s skills as an actor, he can go from action hero Jason Bourne to kindhearted zoo owner Benjamin Mee. Damon isn’t the only one that shines, Thomas Haden Church takes on the role of Benjamin’s cynical brother, which has been altered from being his mother. Church supplies the humour in this warm-hearted moving film, I couldn’t help but feel while watching that his role was a little needless and he was just their to contradict everything Benjamin was doing. Another person who I thinks really shines is Maggie Elizabeth Jones who stars as Rosie Mee, Benjamin’s youngest child, she makes from some really adorable moments in the movie but it does feel that the film plays on her cuteness a bit to much to make the audience like this film. This film really does have some great cast members but lets be honest there is no way in hell that any of us could believe that Scarlett Johansson is a zookeeper.

We Bought A Zoo is by no means perfect but those imperfections shouldn’t stop you from loving it. One of the imperfections of this film is the structure, the first half an hour of this film is pretty poor, with extremely bad attempts at humour and an extremely painful performance from the estate agent. It isn’t until they move into the zoo and meet their new neighbours the film really picks up and becomes the lighthearted yet saddening movie it is.

I really did love We Bought A Zoo, all of it’s flaws seem to wilt away by the end of the movie and you begin to fall in love with it cuteness. Not everyone will love this movie, some may think it is cheesy but others will love it as I did. I thought this film was both cute and moving at the same time, there was one scene of an abrupt argument that nearly had me and many others in tears. We Bought A Zoo isn’t really a family movie, it’s family friendly but it isn’t just a cute animal movie that kids will love, the adults will end up enjoying it more than their children.

8/10

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Movie Review – The Descendants

The Descendants centres on Matt King a land owner who’s wife encounters a fatal speedboat accident which leads Matt to need to reconnect with his daughters. Clooney needs to step up and take care of his daughters while their mother is lying in a hospital on deaths door. Is this the film that will win George Clooney his so desired Oscar this year? The Descendants comes from brilliant director Alexander Payne who bought us two brilliant movies, Sideways and All About Schmidt and his new film doesn’t disappoint.

There are very few directors in the world that manage to make perfection every time they get behind the camera and Alexander Payne is one of the directors that can successfully pull it off. All of his movies are said to be comedies but as we have all noticed they aren’t funny, they are smart, beautifully, sad but they aren’t belly achingly funny. What Payne really excels in is capturing the extreme messiness of families, this film has an especially disorientated family and Payne does a great job of capturing all of the many emotions. Despite this feeling extremely similar to Payne’s other work after watching The Descendants it makes you wish it had the comedy and emotion from 50/50 because that would make this movie perfect, but it just feels lacking. But this film proves yet again that Alexander Payne can turn any situation no matter how dark into a humorous fun time.

Where this film really shines is when it comes to the acting, both by Clooney and the young talent he plays off. After watching this it is really making me think that George Clooney should win best actor at this years awards and not Jean Dujardin, Clooney is great in this movie he has great chemistry with the other family members. One of the best parts of the film is where Clooney is running along the streets of Hawaii, it is both funny, sad, beautifully acted and shot by Payne which makes for an incredibly joyful watch. It is just amazing how Clooney can so seamlessly switch from emotion to humour but Clooney isn’t the only one that steals the show here, Shailene Woodley, who plays the role of his eldest daughter makes for some comedic moments along with some very moving ones and I would very much like to see Woodley in many more films. The chemistry between the youngest and eldest daughter also makes this film even more engaging and believable.

The mixture of great script and phenomenal directing makes for a film where you actually feel for the characters in the film, you become emotionally invested in their lives while you are eagerly anticipating what will happen next. The Descendants isn’t a film that will jump out straight away at you making you feel that this is one of the greatest films you have seen, the feeling of brilliance comes about halfway through the film when you realised how engaged you are with the characters lives making the whole film seem real.

This is a throughly enjoyable film that shows the true strains of families through times of hardship. Clooney is definitely a contender for tonights BAFTA’s and next weeks Oscars. I would recommend this to anyone as it is certainly worth anyones time but I can understand people feeling of familiarity and lack of laughs. I would say it is one of the best movies of the year (2011) so go out and check it out.

9/10