We Bought a Zoo (2011)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

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

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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
Rating:
PG (for language and some thematic elements)
Genre:
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

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Cast

Matt Damon
as Benjamin Mee
Scarlett Johansson
as Kelly Foster
Thomas Haden Church
as Duncan Mee
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
Kym E. Whitley
as Cashier
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 Mom)
Samantha Fox
as Alison
Dustin Ybarra
as Nathan
Ben Seeder
as Bruce
Alice Marie Crowe
as Parrot Lady
Michelle Panek
as Sarah Tanner (Vet Assistant)
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
William Crowe
as Zoo Kid
Curtis Crowe
as Zoo Kid
Johnny Cicco
as Zoo Staff
Alexia Barroso
as Zoo Staff
Shannah Barrett
as Party Girl
Michelle Pickens
as Zoo Lover
Bart And Tank
as Buster the Bear
Crystal
as Crystal the Capuchin
Katie
as Spar the Tiger
Rabbi Elliott T. Spar
as Spar the Tiger
Ninja
as Ronnie the Binturong
Bart Mueller
as Buster the Bear
Tank
as Buster the Bear
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News & Interviews for We Bought a Zoo

Critic Reviews for We Bought a Zoo

All Critics (155) | Top Critics (45)

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… | March 13, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | January 8, 2012
New Yorker
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 4, 2012
Newsday
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 29, 2011
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 27, 2011
Miami Herald
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 23, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

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
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

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.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

½

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
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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