‘We Bought a Zoo,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


Matt Damon has had a strong career playing hard-edged, serious guys like Jason Bourne or the title character in “Good Will Hunting.” So you forget his aptitude for comedy. He brought it to “30 Rock,” just as he did for the Farrelly brothers in “Stuck on You.”

Still, I don’t know if I was ready to see Matt Damon play a Fred MacMurray role, as he does in “We Bought A Zoo.” Not that that’s a bad thing – Damon still summons a boyish energy with little effort and it works for him here, in Cameron Crowe’s new film.

Based on a true story, “Zoo” casts Damon as Benjamin Mee, adventure journalist (from those golden days when newspapers actually paid for that sort of thing) who has lost his enthusiasm for his work since the death of his wife. He’s also distracted by problems with his 15-year-old son Dylan (Colin Mee), who is about to be expelled from school for drawing disturbing pictures – and, most recently, for stealing.

Ben decides the only thing that can keep him involved in his kids’ lives is to move them someplace less menacing than suburban Los Angeles, less full of distractions. So he is looking in the San Fernando Valley (or so it appears) and falls for a great old house, only to discover two crucial things: The house is part of a larger property – and that larger property includes an actual zoo with exotic animals.

This review continues on my website.

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