Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We bought a Zoo

Last night my sister’s family, Hannah and I got out of the house after a day of Christmas celebrating to watch “We bought a zoo.” I had wanted to see the movie last week with Hannah, but she and a friend convinced me to watch latest Chipmunks movie. There is no comparison between the two.

“We bought a zoo” is one of the best family movies I’ve seen. It’s worth watching and discussing with a child.

Some reviewers have righty criticized the movie for its formulaic plot line. Benjamin Mee, played by Matt Damon, tried to escape his grief from the death of his wife and negotiate the challenge of suddenly being a solo parent to two children. He quit his job as an adventure writer and took on the adventure of buying a zoo in the countryside. The zoo is not open and in danger of being closed. The staff of the zoo is overworked, but committed to the zoo’s success of the zoo. Mee’s task is to learn how to run and eventually open the zoo while keeping his family together and not going bankrupt.

The movie was partly based on a book by the same name that took place in England.

The movie clearly plays on the viewers emotions, but I didn’t feel manipulated. Rose, played by Maggie Elzabeth Jones was cute and even joyful as the seven year old daughter of Mee. The number of camera shots that showed how adorable she was bordered on excessive, but her effervescence carried the effort. Mee and Kelly Foster (played by Scarlett Johansson predictably fall for each other. However their relationship developed so slowly so it wasn’t clear at the end of the movie if a permanent romance was in their future.

I enjoy a movie when it takes me out of my life and helps me consider something completely different. I was captivated by the adventure that Mee took in order to rehabilitate the zoo. (It seemed similar to redeveloping a church.) Even though he was ultimately did open the zoo, there were no guarantees during the process that it would work. It was hard work for Mee, and I felt the difficulty of the task. Even if the ending was classic Hollywood, I felt Mee deserved his success. He risked a lot and put in the effort.

Since this clearly was a family movie, the theme fit the genre. As I drove home after the movie I talked with my nephew about the importance of hard work in achieving our dreams. A dream is more than a wish—it’s the culmination of much effort. I felt the challenges and difficulties that Mee experienced. It’s a classic American message, and one that is always worth passing on to future generations.

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