We Bought a Zoo (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

We Bought a Zoo (2011)



Critic Consensus: We Bought a Zoo is a transparently cloying effort by director Cameron Crowe, but Matt Damon makes for a sympathetic central character.

Movie Info

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 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 Sitemore
Rating: PG (for language and some thematic elements)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Aline Brosh McKenna, Cameron Crowe
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 3, 2012
Box Office: $75.6M
20th Century Fox - Official Site


Matt Damon
as Benjamin Mee
Scarlett Johansson
as Kelly Foster
Colin Ford
as Dylan Mee
Angus Macfadyen
as Peter MacCready
Elle Fanning
as Lily Miska
Patrick Fugit
as Robin Jones
John Michael Higgins
as Walter Ferris
Carla Gallo
as Rhonda Blair
JB Smoove
as Mr. Stevens
Stephanie Szostak
as Katherine Mee
Michael Panes
as Principal
Todd Stanton
as San Diego Vet
Lauren Sanchez
as TV Anchor
Peter Riegert
as Delbert McGinty
Roberto Montesinos
as Hugo Chavez
Desi Lydic
as Shea Seger (Lasagna ...
Alice Marie Crowe
as Parrot Lady
Michelle Panek
as Sarah Tanner (Vet As...
Gary D. Robertson
as Male Zookeeper
Nicole Russell
as Volunteer
Reid Peters
as Volunteer
Steve Bessette
as Zoo Patron
Hal Alpert
as Zoo Patron
Leslie Trotter
as Zoo Patron
Steven Lee
as Zoo Patron
Katherine Yerves
as Zoo Patron
Caroline Hanna
as Zoo Patron
David López
as Zoo Patron
Benjamin Mee
as Visiting Family
Ella Mee
as Visiting Family
Milo Mee
as Visiting Family
Sammi Yorn
as Visiting Family
Curtis Crowe
as Zoo Kid
Johnny Cicco
as Zoo Staff
Alexia Barroso
as Zoo Staff
Shannah Barrett
as Party Girl
Bart And Tank
as Buster the Bear
as Crystal the Capuchin
as Spar the Tiger
as Ronnie the Binturong
Bart Mueller
as Buster the Bear
as Buster the Bear
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for We Bought a Zoo

Critic Reviews for We Bought a Zoo

All Critics (156) | Top Critics (45)

Since "We Bought a Zoo" doesn't have much on offer, it could and should have at least been a more pointed reminder for us to rediscover nature and support local zoos.

Full Review… | October 7, 2015
Critic's Notebook

Crowe, who aims high to plant a big smile on your face, does so here more than competently.

Full Review… | August 11, 2014
Film School Rejects

Packed with too many storylines, this drama feels like a zoo indeed.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

...this is packed with all the warmth, heart and humanity that one has come to expect from a Cameron Crowe film.

Full Review… | October 24, 2012
FILMINK (Australia)

A muddled focus keeps We Bought a Zoo from being a guaranteed hit with kids or a captivating adult drama but there are enough compelling moments to make it worthwhile.

Full Review… | October 1, 2012

In short, We Bought a Zoo is all bore and no roar, and while it's certainly not the worst of Crowe's career, it's far from earning its stripes as a worthy successor to his earlier films.

Full Review… | September 15, 2012
We Got This Covered

Audience Reviews for We Bought a Zoo

Cameron Crowe aims for the Disney audience with this obvious-as-a-grammar school play crowd pleasing story about a single dad trying to raise his coming of age difficult children. I've actually given the whole film away by now except for the cute animal instagrams spread throughout. It was interesting to see Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson cover more down to earth material than the fantasy that is so prevalent nowadays, and both actors seem to warm to the presentation as well. One aspect Crowe nails is how aggravating teens are to everyone, quite without the artifice of most productions.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


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 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.

Jens S.

Super Reviewer


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 little 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.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

We Bought a Zoo Quotes

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– Submitted by Adam P (2 years ago)

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