User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 158 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 158

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User Reviews

  1. Apr 6, 2012
    4
    We Bought a Zoo is a movie for all the family and it is just to have a good time. The topic is peculiar, but not so attractive; and that happen because of the title, it tells you the main part of the plot and also it is not very catchy. But what seems a typical American story transform into an interesting conflict between a family that lost its pillar (the mother) who is struggling withWe Bought a Zoo is a movie for all the family and it is just to have a good time. The topic is peculiar, but not so attractive; and that happen because of the title, it tells you the main part of the plot and also it is not very catchy. But what seems a typical American story transform into an interesting conflict between a family that lost its pillar (the mother) who is struggling with its past, and this fight it can be notice in the desperate father, the misunderstood boy and the innocent daughter.
    What turns into a very promising movie fails in the development of the actions. The sequence is extremely predictable and the cute moments were overused.
    However the plot rises again with two things: repeated characters (Benjamin and Dylan have the same personality; and the something similar occur with Kelly and Lily) and the concept of 20 Seconds of Insane Courage. Although all this is wasted because of the predictable and never ending plot.
    The direction and the script are really poor; the performances are up to the movie and the theme turns to be interesting, but all the ups and downs in the plot make this film tedious to watch.
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  2. Apr 23, 2012
    4
    Pleasant enough but bland, innocuous and cliché ridden. The worst offender being a cheesy, non-ironic montage. Perfect tv movie style fare for a wet Wednesday afternoon but don't waste a Friday or Saturday evening with it.
  3. Jan 2, 2012
    5
    Will the zoo survive? Will Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson fall in love? Will the angst ridden teenager get over his mother's loss? Will the little girl be cute beyond belief? You know the answers to all these questions before you even set foot in the theater, but I kept hoping for something original to happen to set it apart from all the other similar family films. It didn'tWill the zoo survive? Will Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson fall in love? Will the angst ridden teenager get over his mother's loss? Will the little girl be cute beyond belief? You know the answers to all these questions before you even set foot in the theater, but I kept hoping for something original to happen to set it apart from all the other similar family films. It didn't happen. Too saccharin sweet and predictable for my taste. I thought the acting was fine throughout, although a couple of people came across as a caricature (the zoo inspector and the long haired zoo employee who acted like a big muppet). Expand
  4. Mar 4, 2012
    5
    This may be Matt Damon's best acting ever. Others may not see it, but I see heart in this movie. I loved watching this movie, even if there were a few slow parts
  5. Dec 25, 2011
    4
    Damon's acting is the highlight of the film. This film has almost no emotion and it ends up flat and stale. Even Matt Damon doesn't save this film from being a failure.
  6. Feb 16, 2012
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Walter Ferris is uncool; he refuses a drink from Benjamin, not even water, as the men make their way to the lion enclosure. It's the day of Rosemoor Animal Park's final inspection, whose anticipated grand re-opening is contingent on getting a good review from the, mind you, zoo reviewer. The federal officer will not make friends with the menagerie stars. Somebody mentored this bureaucrat well. He's "honest and unmerciful". Not for nothing does the filmmaker cast Patrick Fugit, the Almost Famous star(here playing a zookeeper with an ever-present capuchin monkey perched on his shoulder), since Walter, arguably, is being a real friend to these people by writing what he sees in his audit, because a compromised examination of the animal park could result in needless endangerment for all parties concerned: the animals, the employees, and especially their prospective customers. As William Miller in the 2000 roman a clef, Fugit is told by rock critic Lester Bangs that "friendship is the booze they feed you; they want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong." Walter, a critic of sorts, explains to Ben that he doesn't drink water, which for him, would be tantamount to accepting a bribe, later adding(after he gives Rosemoor its permit) that he never fraternizes, when the owner tries to include the examiner in their celebration. Similar to Creem's founder, Walter, too, possesses an encyclopedic mind, but instead of rock history, his mind is cluttered with more prosaic minutiae, such as zoo bylaws, and other rules and regulations that pertain to animal care and maintenance. The nature of his job precludes human interaction, a choice which results in loneliness. As he walks away from the open-aired jubilee, and towards the isolation chamber of his car, it's hard not to recall the scene between Hoffman and Miller, where Bangs, a self-made miserablist, and Miller, an outcast at his school, talk about the pitfalls of being uncool. In the real world, the filmmaker didn't follow Bangs' advice. He not only made friends with the rock stars, he married one. The casting of Fugit obliquely refers to this life choice, since Robin too chose people over animals(read: the filmmaker chose love over journalistic integrity), but his dedication to the monkey plays like a tribute to Bangs, because the zookeeper, quite literally, can't get the monkey off his back(read: his first love is still music). Bangs, who tells William: "Women will always be a problem for guys like us," would have hated Benjamin for the same reasons as Walter, because "good-looking people, they got no spine...and they get the girls." Walter leers at Kelly, and in the process, makes a pass at her, with a wink in his eye, since he knows full well that he's no match for the hunky owner, who looks conspicuously like Matt Damon. The flabby-chested man is no "golden god". It loathes Walter to pass Ben's efforts with flying colors, but he's a professional, who truly cares about the animals. For the ex-Rolling Stone journalist, who is making his return to narrative film after the poorly-received Elizabethtown, this film, adapted from the 2008 Benjamin Mee memoir, is not just a departure, genre-wise, but a pointed one, best-exemplified by the similarity of the film title to the anarchic moment in Almost Famous, where the band manager screams, "You just bought a gate!" after he gives the okay for malicious vandalism to the tour bus driver. In We Bought a Zoo, Ben is reprimanded by Kelly for referring to the "enclosures" as "cages", but semantically speaking, it's the same thing. We Bought a Zoo is a cage of sorts for this music-centric filmmaker, who is not normally this formulaic. Although in one scene, a grizzly bear breaks loose, the wild beast never truly gets a chance to roam, and is soon taken down by a tranquilizer gun. The filmmaker knows the feeling. Elizabethtown, lambasted by critics, especially the sequence where a grieving Susan Sarandon does stand-up comedy and tap dances to "Moon River" at her husband's funeral, which is then followed-up by a band who plays "Freebird". In lieu of the avant-garde-like experimentation of the film's final act(Claire's mix tape and map that the hero follows), We Bought a Zoo is more akin to "I Know What the Caged Bird Sings". Nothing. It's the rare movie in the filmmaker's oeuvre that popular music isn't foregrounded. Instead of Lloyd Dobler blasting "In Your Eyes" on his boombox into Diane Court's room, we see Ben stepping outside onto his front porch, where he listens to the found music of the animals, at dusk. Whereas the "buzz" that Jeff Bebe talks about in Almost Famous is used as a metaphor to describe Stillwater's music, in We Bought a Zoo the buzz is literalized, in which Ben wears a full suit to protect him from the killer bees, at the outset of the film. This time, the filmmaker's love of music isn't going to kill him. We Bought a Zoo is that protective suit. Expand
  7. May 22, 2012
    6
    Damon is good in this film where there is a good mix of funny and sad moments in a calculated sequence resembling a Disney production. Only this one is based on a true story.
  8. Apr 6, 2012
    6
    A movie about a widower (Matt Damon) who wants to rehabilitate himself by going far and starting anew, he bought a closed zoo with the intention of taking it afloat. Between the quarrels of the father with his adolescent son (Colin Ford) and approaches from one of the zoo employees (Scarlett JohanSson) the movie is divided into two parts. The first one is quite slow and boring without tooA movie about a widower (Matt Damon) who wants to rehabilitate himself by going far and starting anew, he bought a closed zoo with the intention of taking it afloat. Between the quarrels of the father with his adolescent son (Colin Ford) and approaches from one of the zoo employees (Scarlett JohanSson) the movie is divided into two parts. The first one is quite slow and boring without too much events, the second part tries to catch up what was left over, an old tiger dies, the son gets involved with a local teenage, the child daughter (Maggie Elizabeth Johns) adds laughters without being that convincing, and finally the zoo opens and welcomes the small town habitants, some melodrama and tears. Entertaining without been attracting, no much events, spectators may fall asleep without losing much. Expand
  9. Jan 6, 2013
    4
    The movie was very pleasent to watch, but overall it was very predictable and cheesy. Its one of those movies, that you will watch partly enjoy. But after a few weeks you will forget about it.
  10. Oct 19, 2012
    4
    As much of a sensitive, empathetic person that I am, I could not click properly with the characters and even for the film it was, reality went out of the window. I got sick of the angelic soundtrack halfway through the film of which it degenerated into a sickly pile of sugar. The acting of the main characters couldn't have saved it, and the only things I liked were the animals, and, for aAs much of a sensitive, empathetic person that I am, I could not click properly with the characters and even for the film it was, reality went out of the window. I got sick of the angelic soundtrack halfway through the film of which it degenerated into a sickly pile of sugar. The acting of the main characters couldn't have saved it, and the only things I liked were the animals, and, for a comedy-drama which went on for a whole 2 hours, the only things I laughed at were the countless clichés that me and my dad could easily predict from the start. Expand
  11. Apr 18, 2012
    5
    Saw this one in the cinema, after a 6-year hiatus, Cameron Crowe eventually has returned to his director chair (documentaries excluded), but this a cliche ridden family dramedy clearly isnâ
  12. Feb 16, 2012
    6
    Movie was okay could of been edited and tightened up in places. Felt as if there was to many spots for which this film could of ended. None the less Damon does an excellent job in his role. The stand out role in this movie though is Maggie Elizabeth Jones who plays the the youngest daughter. Great movie to bring the kids to and safe for a first date. Overall could have been better but notMovie was okay could of been edited and tightened up in places. Felt as if there was to many spots for which this film could of ended. None the less Damon does an excellent job in his role. The stand out role in this movie though is Maggie Elizabeth Jones who plays the the youngest daughter. Great movie to bring the kids to and safe for a first date. Overall could have been better but not to bad at all. Expand
  13. Nov 27, 2012
    5
    I am a sucker for a mushy family melodrama. I am a sucker for a Matt Damon movie. I am a sucker for anything Scarlett Johansson has going on at all. I also like most of what Cameron Crowe has done in his career. So to say I thought I would enjoy this movie is an understatement. Unfortunately it failed to grip me in very many areas. There are some touching family moments, and a bit of humorI am a sucker for a mushy family melodrama. I am a sucker for a Matt Damon movie. I am a sucker for anything Scarlett Johansson has going on at all. I also like most of what Cameron Crowe has done in his career. So to say I thought I would enjoy this movie is an understatement. Unfortunately it failed to grip me in very many areas. There are some touching family moments, and a bit of humor to enjoy. But for the most part I remained disengaged for most of this film. Expand
  14. Feb 19, 2016
    5
    We Bought a Zoo may look adventurous and life-changing, but the visual storyline easily gets lost track and the Zoo looks like it has an expiration date on it and if they don't buy to keep the Zoo going on longer, it'll get expired and they'll lose the Zoo. Same thing happens with this movie.
Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 40
  2. Negative: 3 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Mar 16, 2012
    60
    It's a bit sucrose, especially at the beginning, but this traditional, sweet-natured family film will tug on the heartstrings.
  2. Reviewed by: Andrew Lowry
    Mar 16, 2012
    60
    It's slight, sure, and there's a better, less-glossy film buried in the material, but warm performances redeem Crowe's agreeable return.
  3. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Mar 12, 2012
    60
    Zoo is the antithesis of edgy, an overlong, all encompassing experience that despite Crowe's integrity and lightness of touch doesn't deliver the emotional experience of, say, "Jerry Maguire" or "Almost Famous." Still, it is good to have the righteous dude back.