“Travel the stages of grieving, and yet, stop just before zebras get involved.” Sage advice from Benjamin Mee’s brother, Duncan, in response to the idea of his little brother and recent widower buying a zoo. I think considering the title of the movie, it is in no way a spoiler to say he does, in fact, buy the zoo, simply because he loved the house that came with it, Rosie fell hard for all the animals and also, “why not?” I think it is a pity the film moves the story from England to California (possibly to avoid comparisons with Fierce Creatures but probably simply to have more appeal to American audiences) but it does retain all the charm and ethos of the original. Little Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) is the cutest thing ever and I especially loved Angus MacFadyen as the tempestuous Scotsman Peter MacCready. Scarlett Johansson beautifully underplays her role as zookeeper Kelly, who says herself that she’s better with animals than she is with people. I know the actress is capable of playing a real sexpot but here she’s a gamine soul with no pretenses or artifice. This is undoubtedly a family movie with elements that will appeal to a wide range of ages but handily avoids becoming overly saccharine or needlessly emotional. It is heartfelt, dealing with the realities of losing a wife and mother but doesn’t dwell on the pain. This is a family learning how to move on, a portrait of healthy recovery as opposed to the angst filled festivals of grief that generally get all the awards and critical rave reviews. This movie carries a message of hope and a readily quotable bit of practical philosophy applicable to daily life, courtesy of Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon): “Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” A wonderful feel-good film that has the spark of something profoundly real, I highly recommend you give this a try. Who knows, perhaps something great will come of it. – BETHANY
There’s a lot of familiar faces in this movie and here’s where you can see what else they’ve been in: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1389137/?ref_=nv_sr_1
I promise you, this is an actual scene in the movie, not a publicity shot.
Oh look, zebras!
Dang it, not the zebras! Why did it have to be zebras? – Duncan Mee, zoo skeptic (Thomas Haden Church).
Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) having a moment with a tiger named Spar.
Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) immediately takes to the zoo.
Isn’t Rosie adorable? Scarlet Johansson as Kelly Foster isn’t half bad either.
Dylan Mee and persistently friendly Lily (Elle Fanning)
Walter Ferris (John Michael Higgins), a crushingly perverse zoo inspector, and yes, he intentionally positioned that extendable tape measure.
The zoo employees – Peter MacCreedy (the one in the tam) looks like he’s defiantly facing a firing squad.
Pictures courtesy of Vinyl Films, LBI Entertainment, Dune Entertainment and 20th Century Fox