We Bought a Zoo Reviews

Top Critic
Cath Clarke
Time Out
March 13, 2012
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
January 9, 2012
Nothing that happens in this movie is in the least surprising, but it's all quite pleasant and even, at times, moving.
Top Critic
Rafer Guzman
Newsday
January 5, 2012
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
December 30, 2011
Damon and Colin Ford as his teen son have an affecting hesitancy, their hearts hovering between the living and the dead.
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
December 28, 2011
The picture annoys you, but it also wrings happy tears, because Crowe pulls at your heartstrings in crafty ways.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Calvin Wilson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
December 23, 2011
Crowe seems to be making baby steps into new territory, both stylistically and emotionally.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
December 23, 2011
A professional actor in the best sense, always credibly grounded, Damon is much better than the material, and so is Colin Ford who plays the troubled son.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
December 23, 2011
We Bought a Zoo is so filled with artificial sweetener that it may cause cancer.
Full Review | Original Score: D+
Top Critic
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
December 23, 2011
Consider it a fine sign of emotional discipline that the movie doesn't overplay Kelly and Ben's romantic possibilites.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
December 23, 2011
These are ideas from old movies, and presented without any of the conviction those pictures used to give them.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
December 23, 2011
"We Bought a Zoo" provides a welcome seasonal dash of wholesomeness and humor, but it's also a heartening celebration of second acts, even at their most unwelcome.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
December 23, 2011
Heartwarming holiday fare that even jaded adults can share with the kids.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Amy Biancolli
San Francisco Chronicle
December 22, 2011
The film is sweet. Its observations of life in the aftermath of death ring true, especially for anyone who's traveled the contours of mourning.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
December 22, 2011
Not surprisingly, this menagerie of genres doesn't mesh.
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
December 22, 2011
"We Bought a Zoo" is as phony as a Kardashian marriage.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
Top Critic
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
December 22, 2011
The creaks, groans and clichés of the screenplay ... are ... finally outstripped by the attractiveness of the performers, those with two legs and more, and especially by the tenderness that Mr. Damon brings to his role.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
December 22, 2011
"We Bought a Zoo" is a movie you want to like, and a movie you can enjoy if you cut its slackness some slack.
Top Critic
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 22, 2011
The filmmakers insufficiently stir the lumpy metaphors, chief among them that for animals, as for humans, there is a difference between cages and enclosures.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
December 22, 2011
While not quite Crowe at his absolute best, it carries his humanistic imprint and benefits from a strong acting ensemble that keep emotions in check.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
December 22, 2011
There's a word for the strenuous, shameless plucking of an audience's emotions that this movie traffics in: cornography.
Top Critic
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
December 22, 2011
"We Bought a Zoo'' is a sweet-natured, terribly unthreatening drama about redemption and renewal, and it may matter more to the man who made it than the audiences who see it.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
December 22, 2011
The moment in any family film when dignity goes out the window is an animal reaction shot.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
December 22, 2011
A sweet and genial comedy with a relatively low cloy factor.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Dan Kois
Slate
December 22, 2011
Watching the overlong, overfeeling, overdirected We Bought a Zoo made me glad to return from Cameron Crowe's world to the real world, where things aren't quite so simple.
Top Critic
Tom Keogh
Seattle Times
December 22, 2011
It's about taking a complete leap of faith toward life-altering changes, a running theme in all the director's movies.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
December 22, 2011
The movie is quite enjoyable, though, redeemed by Crowe's trademark sincerity and assured handling of oddball character actors.
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
December 22, 2011
There's a lot of fun waiting at We Bought a Zoo, but it's the feelings that run through every scene that'll make you glad you came.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
December 22, 2011
Damon, thank the family-friendly-movie gods, really knows how to hold his head above the corn.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
December 22, 2011
The result is too much formula and not enough human interest.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Keith Phipps
AV Club
December 22, 2011
Moves from mopey drama one moment to a reaction shot of a monkey smacking his forehead in exasperation the next. By the end of the film, viewers might understand the monkey's feelings all too well.
Full Review | Original Score: C
Top Critic
Linda Barnard
Toronto Star
December 22, 2011
An average movie that's clearly been crafted to bring holiday families together over the popcorn machine.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
December 21, 2011
The general sense of blandness and predictability that marks the story's progression does not damage its emotional strengths. We feel for these characters and, because we care about them, we yearn for the highs the film ultimately delivers.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
December 21, 2011
Damon proves amiable and appealing in a part that's not asking him to stretch much.
Top Critic
Eric D. Snider
Film.com
December 21, 2011
When we do feel a warm fuzzy in the heart or a lump in the throat, we also see everything Crowe did to put it there.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com
December 21, 2011
This is a sweet, funny, unapologetically sentimental film.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
December 21, 2011
Proves again that Damon can elevate just about anything in which he appears.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
December 21, 2011
The performances are sincere and Mr. Damon actually seems to be having a ball, giving one of the best and most mature performances of his career.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
December 20, 2011
Too much of the movie feels predestined---down to the rainstorm on opening day---and subplots involving budding romance end up forcing what's implicit.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Robert Wilonsky
Village Voice
December 20, 2011
Crowe is back to what he's good at: small stories populated by everyday people.
Top Critic
Alonso Duralde
TheWrap
December 20, 2011
The results feel artificial and sappy, with only a few too-little-too-late moments where the tragedy of losing a mother or a wife is handled with anything resembling grace.
Top Critic
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
December 19, 2011
This is the first feature from Crowe since the heavy-handed, overly quirky "Elizabethtown," and while it's not a complete return to form, it's close enough.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Glenn Kenny
MSN Movies
December 18, 2011
...where We Bought A Zoo earns its stripes is in the process of getting all of its characters to relate to and accept each other.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
December 13, 2011
From the high-concept title to the family-friendly story line, it's basically a Tim Allen movie, only made with taste and feeling.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Rob Nelson
Variety
November 28, 2011
Warm-blooded but largely lifeless.
Top Critic
David Rooney
Hollywood Reporter
November 27, 2011
It doesn't dodge the potholes of earnest sentimentality and at times overplays the whimsy. But the uplifting tale has heart, humanity and a warmly empathetic central performance from Matt Damon.