The title of this movie made me think it was a kiddie’s film but I can definitely tell you that it isn’t yes they did buy a defunct zoo and try to make it functional but the true story of this movie is the portrayal of a family trying to function after the loss of their matriarch.
For a plot that is a real life story, the lead character seems like a semi unreasonable person. Why would someone who has two young children take such a risk? What if he doesn’t make it, what will happen to his kids? Who is going to take care of them? He even uses the emergency fund his wife hid from him? Is this guy OK? But even with all these questions ringing in my head, the film still manages to portray the message that he really thought he was doing what was best for his family to help them move forward from their loss. It really is a great family movie with passionate acting from the cast and I’m sure majority of the audience wouldn’t have asked the questions above because they were busy enjoying the movie which was produced very well.
Benjamin Mee played by Matt Damon
Matt plays this role with a lot of passion and finesse even though his character seems like someone going through a mid life crisis. It’s quite apparent he hasn’t got over the loss of his wife and is having trouble carrying the burden of parenthood alone but he takes on everything with the mindset of an adventurer. Yes he took quite a risk and it could have all gone sour and there was no logical reasoning for BUYING A ZOO but we all could learn a thing or two from him; life is a risk those who are brave enough to ‘try’ are those who make it.
Kelly Foster played by Scarlett Johansson
Pretty girl Scarlett transitions into no makeup zoo hand quite well pouring determination and strength into the character with an amount of bewilderment as to why this apparent novice in zoo matters buys a zoo! But the zoo has been her life so she’s ready to do what it takes to make it work. Her acting of country hand is quite believable and she obviously made up for the naivety of Benjamin Mee.
Duncan Mee played by Thomas Haden Church
He plays the supposedly rational of the two Mee brothers but ends up being the one who seems to always make the mid-life crisis type decisions. He provides a few good laughs and lightens the mood of the movie even as he tries to make his brother see reason and get over the loss of his wife.
Dylan Mee, Rosie Mee and Lily Miska played by Colin ford, Mary Elizabeth Jones and Elle Fanning respectively
Dylan is the typical acting out teenage boy who doesn’t know how to share his feelings both with his father and new love interest Lily. His answer to everything is drawing and he’s quite good at it so kudos on that front and well done to him for portraying the frustrated teenager very skilfully. Rosie is the cute funny daughter who seems to be the only one managing the loss well (could be because she young) but her dialogue is very refreshing all through the film. My favourite quote still remains ‘hey mister, everyone says you’re a dick! I don’t know what that means but I don’t think so’. Lily is Kelly’s cousin and holds her own ground as a country farm girl developing a crush on the city boy. The kids give good performances and don’t just end up as screen feelers as is the case a lot of times with kid actors.
The movie will not be complete without this set of supporting cast with Angus MacFadyen’s Peter MacCready and John Michael Higgins’ Walter Ferris standing out in the pack.