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We Bought a Zoo (2011)



Average Rating: 6.2/10
Reviews Counted: 152
Fresh: 100 | Rotten: 52

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


Average Rating: 6.4/10
Critic Reviews: 43
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 15

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



liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 129,791

My Rating

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 Site


Drama, Comedy

Cameron Crowe, Aline Brosh McKenna

Apr 3, 2012


20th Century Fox - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (155) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (100) | Rotten (52) | DVD (7)

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.

March 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 9, 2012 Full Review Source: New Yorker | Comment (1)
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

December 30, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

December 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

December 23, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

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

October 24, 2012 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
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.

October 1, 2012 Full Review Source: ScreenRant

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.

September 15, 2012 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Might be a stereotypical 'family movie,' but it's still a good one.

August 22, 2012 Full Review Source: CraveOnline

full review at Movies for the Masses

April 27, 2012 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses | Comment (1)
Movies for the Masses

The film is a button-pusher, but it is so in the nicest way possible.

April 18, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

A few more animal encounters and fewer grief sessions would have been nice, but it's still a solid family film.

April 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis | Comments (2)
Movie Metropolis

Suffers from a case of schizophrenia; some of it is waaay too simple, cutesy and/or sappy for adults, while other scenes are too intense and adult for children.

April 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Dearest
Movie Dearest

It's something of a sweet-natured slog, peppered, as all of Crowe's films are, peppered with the pop music the former pop music journalist loves.

March 23, 2012 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

It unfolds like military assault on the tear ducts. Don't know when to cry? Here comes Sigur Rós' Jónsi with an evocative sonic swoop to help you on your way.

March 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

A mushy metaphor for what it takes to bring a "Cameron Crowe movie" to the big screen.

March 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Scotsman

There is no harm in it and not a single surprise.

March 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

The shameless manipulation on display here makes one wonder where Cameron Crowe's talent has gone.

March 18, 2012 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

While the creatures may be dangerous, Jerry Maguire director Cameron Crowe definitely plays things safe.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

You have to admire the thoroughness with which We Bought a Zoo - which is the film Disney would make if they still knew how - caters to the whole family.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Superficially very charming, this lacks depth but is still a pleasant and moving distraction.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Sun Online
Sun Online

We Bought A Zoo is Crowe at his most mawkish and cliched.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo

For all the movie's cute kids and sentimentality, [Damon] is the warm-hearted and convincing heart of this uplifting flick.

March 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

It's an easy-going, likable film.

March 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

Audience Reviews for We Bought a Zoo

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.
December 29, 2012
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

This was okay to watch once. Drags on a bit, but story is nice and cast are good.
December 1, 2012

Super Reviewer

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 Benjamin 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.
September 4, 2012

Super Reviewer

Absolutely wonderful!! A feel good, sentimental, sweet, funny movie. Very, very enjoyable!
June 20, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. 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.
    – Submitted by Adam P (9 months ago)
    1. Rosie Mee: What about the easter bunny?
    – Submitted by Adam P (9 months ago)
    1. Benjamin Mee: Lets go on the road, Dylan, we'll be hobos.
    – Submitted by Adam P (9 months ago)
    1. Dylan Mee: You hate me!
    2. Benjamin Mee: We had some problems but we'll figure it out.
    – Submitted by Adam P (9 months ago)
    1. Rosie Mee: Yay, we bought a zoo
    – Submitted by Adam P (9 months ago)
    1. 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.
    – Submitted by Adam P (9 months ago)
View all quotes (44)

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Latest News on We Bought a Zoo

August 1, 2013:
Cameron Crowe Casts Alec Baldwin in Untitled Project
Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams and Danny McBride are also reportedly part of the cast.
July 31, 2012:
Emma Stone Starring in Cameron Crowe's Next Film
Rumor has it he's returning to his shelved "Deep Tiki" project.
December 22, 2011:
Critics Consensus: Tintin, Dragon Tattoo Are Certified Fresh
Happy Holidays! This week at the movies, we've got a junior adventurer (The Adventures of Tintin,...

Foreign Titles

  • Wir kaufen einen Zoo (DE)
  • Nouveau Départ (FR)
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