First Hit: Despite its obvious intentions to elicit emotions, it effectively works on all cylinders.
It is hard to think that Matt Damon can be in a bad film.
I wondered about the title of this movie and the previews that I saw had me thinking - maybe. But as he said on The Daily Show “It’s a Cameron Crowe film.” Yup, it is true and it is good.
The overall acting by everyone is top notch. Crowe got what he needed from everyone.
This film is about a Benjamin Mee (Damon) who loses his wife and is left with two kids; Dylan (played by Colin Ford) a 14 year old boy and Rosie (played by Maggie Elizabeth Jones) a 6 year old girl. They miss their mom just as Benjamin misses his wife every single day.
Benjamin gets advice and support from his very close brother Duncan (played by Thomas Haden Church) who is an accountant and has his own life struggles. Feeling stuck in their lives, Benjamin leaves the city and moves his family outside into the country by buying a rundown and soon to be closed down zoo.
Rosie is happy, Dylan is angry, Duncan is confused, and Benjamin is doing his best to find a way to let go of the memories of Katherine is wife (played by Stephanie Szostak). Running the zoo is the former zoo keeper apprentice Kelly Foster (played by Scarlett Johansson). All the zoo workers are unique in their own way and this film lets them all have their moments.
The story’s goal is to get the zoo open by July 7th and they only have a few months. This journey is one of forgiveness, letting go, letting love, hard work and the results of “giving yourself 20 seconds of insane courage”.
Damon is amazing. He brings courage, confidence, thoughtfulness, anger, sadness and laughter to his character. Ford is wonderful as the frustrated teen who is very lost. Jones is unbelievably wonderful as the wondrous daughter. Church is perfect as the supportive but ever skeptical funny protective brother. Johansson is sublime as the zoo keeper who has confidence and is looking for someone to match this. Elle Fanning as Lily was super as the open fearless girl who has a crush. The entire cast is simply wonderful and that is because of the well written story by Aline Brosh McKenna and Cameron Crowe and the perfect direction by Crowe.
Overall: This is a very good and heart-warming PG film.