I got a chance to preview director Cameron Crowe’s adaptation of “We Bought a Zoo” and the kids and I fell in love with this story on so many levels. Based upon a true story, We Bought a Zoo stars Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, and Thomas Haden Church.
Benjamin Mee (Damon) is a Los Angeles newspaper columnist and adventure writer who, as a single father, faces the challenges of raising his two young children. Hoping that a fresh start and a new life will restore their family spirit, Mee quits his job and buys an old rural house outside the city with a unique bonus feature: a zoo named the Rosemoor Animal Park, where dozens of animals reside under the care of head zookeeper Kelly Foster (Johansson) and her dedicated team. With no experience, limited time and a shoestring budget, Mee sets out with the support of his family and the local community to reopen the zoo. Now, Benjamin is no longer reporting an adventure story; he’s living it in his own backyard.
Highlights and Lessons
I really enjoyed the themes that circulated in the storyline with this film and story. It talks about life and choices of a single parent, a widower in this case, trying to find a balance and raise a family without any clue in the world about running a zoo. A great metaphor for many single parents since sometimes running your family alone is quite like feeling like you are “in a zoo.” The other themes have to do with dealing with grief from the death of a loved one. Grief is a reoccurring theme in this film and it’s portrayed in a gentle and inspiring way. This film provides many lessons for old and young alike on this process for many and we watch this single father go through the process of grieving with the purchase of this zoo.
Overall, children will love the animals in this film and young children will likely not understand the themes in this film. However, older children and adults that may have experienced a loss of a pet or a loved one can empathize with this film. I thought the story was heartwarming and very inspirational and teaches a very hopeful tale for all single parents that are trying their best to teach their children some important lessons such as hope, taking chances, grief and working together. There is a wonderful study guide that you can download and discuss with your family here! It can be used for personal study, post-movie family conversations or larger discussion groups. Its aim is to help relate the moving story of the Mee family to your own personal stories and has many references to bible scripture if you can see the parallel to cardinal virtues or the story of Noah and the Ark.
Featuring an incredible musical score composed by Jónsi of the band Sigur Rós, the We Bought a Zoo (Blu-ray/ DVD + Digital Copy) is loaded with over 2½ hours of special features including 20 deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, four behind-the-scenes featurettes, commentary with Director Cameron Crowe, star J.B. Smoove (The Sitter, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Editor Mark Livolsi, and more. The film also features an English Family Friendly Audio Track that earned the Dove Seal of Approval. The Blu-ray and DVD will be available for an average retail price of $24.99 and $19.99 respectively. This is a definite must see and I really liked Scarlett Johansson’s performance as a really intelligent, strong and smart girl with a passion for what she does. It’s the same for Damon’s character as well. Preorder We Bought a Zoo from Amazon.com today!
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