Sunday, July 22, 2012

Animal Husbandry (Film Review: We Bought A Zoo)

Sometimes I wonder if I am really as cynical as I used to be, or this old age of mine has made me even softer. I normally do not go out of my way for family-themed things, but I found myself watching "We Bought A Zoo" and enjoying it immensely. I was attracted to it because it was directed by Cameron Crowe, who directed "Jerry Maguire," and "Say Anything." The film was adapted from a non-fiction book about a family who bought and restored an old zoo. It's a fairly predictable story, and you more or less know how the movie turns out, so the fun should be how the filmmakers and actors connect the dots. Matt Damon is superb: he gives his role just the tight amount of pathos without it being too sentimental. I keep on forgetting how good an actor he is, and now that his boyish looks have somewhat faded, one can concentrate more on his characters. I am still unmoved by Scarlett Johansson, an actor I have never "gotten." I think she is too mannered, too self-conscious, and do not understand her appeal. (On stage, I am as baffled by her Tony-award winning performance)  They have even managed to make her unattractive here, with stringy hair and a perma-scowl. The kids are cute, as they ought to be in a movie like this, and I see a great future in Elle Fanning (Dakota's younger sister) who has star quality. This is one of those movies that entertained me while I was watching it. But, I also don't know if I would ever sit down and watch this movie again.

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