Being a single parent is hard on Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon). After the death of his wife, Ben is focused on trying to keep his family afloat, but when his troubled son Dylan (Colin Ford) gets in trouble at school, Ben makes a decision that will forever change the life of his family. He relocates his family to a house that has a Zoo. The zoo has become rather run down, so Ben, his family, and the entire crew that lives on property with him work together to bring new life to this once popular place. Directed by Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire), the film is inspired by the true story of the real Benjamin Mee, who bought a zoo in England. The film also stars Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers, Lost in Translation), Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Spider-Man 3), Elle Fanning (Super 8), and John Michael Higgins (Evan Almighty, Happily Divorced).
Picture and Sound:
Twentieth Century Fox has delivered We Bought a Zoo with an absolutely stunning blu-ray transfer. The film has a very natural look, and fine detail is incredibly clear. Looking at clothing and facial hair, or even the hair on the animals in the zoo, everything is just clear. The shots of the animals are some of my favorite in the movie, because they just look so incredibly gorgeous in high definition. This is a beautiful picture, and I find very few problems in the transfer. The sound mix isn’t half bad either. With a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and for a family comedy like this, it’s definitely a good one. With all the sounds that come accompanied with a zoo, it really roars to life here. It’s very impressive. Also, with this being a Cameron Crowe movie, features a rather large and impressive soundtrack, so all the music in the movie sounds great as well. The mix just makes sense, and the sounds and music are never overbearing over the actors, and everything comes out clear. It’s a very stellar soundtrack that compliments the already great picture on this disc, making it easy to suggest on a purely technical standpoint.
The movie is no slouch in this department either. Fox has given us a nice helping of special features here.
- Audio Commentary: Of course most movies come with this feature. Here we have a commentary with director Cameron Crowe, Editor Mark Livolsi, and actor JB Smoove. This is pretty standard commentary, where they talk about the making of the movie, the different cuts of the movie they had before their final version and things like that. It’s not the most exciting commentary track, but it’s definitely informative.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes: There is a whopping thirty seven minutes of deleted and extended scenes here. For someone like me, I really enjoy watching the different scenes that were cut out of the film, because I like to wonder the movie that could have been. It was really unsurprising to find this many deleted scenes on the disc, because Crowe is known for making many different cuts in his movies before they’re finally released, as was the case with Almost Famous. If you love seeing some of the other things that were filmed for the movie, this is definitely worth your time.
- We Shot a Zoo: This is a great five part making of documentary on the movie. It clocks in at around one hour and fifteen minutes, featuring interviews with the entire cast and crew, and really delves into the full production of the film. It’s a really fun documentary to watch, and for fans of the movie, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.
- Their Happy is Too Loud: This feature runs about seventeen minutes and is just focused on the making of the score of the film by the frontman Sigur Ros, Jonsi.
- The Real Mee: This half hour conversation with the real Benjamin Mee is, for me, the highlight of the whole special features section. He talks about his real life and the zoo he and his family built together. It’s really interesting, and I loved hearing from him directly about his true story. It’s definitely worth watching.
- Gag Reel: Of course, the standard gag reel is here. It’s definitely worth a few laughs.
- Photo Gallery: Pictures that were taken from around the set during production.
- Theatrical Trailer: The trailer for the movie, if you like to remember the marketing of the movie.
We Bought a Zoo is a fantastic movie that the whole family can enjoy together. It’s great to see Cameron Crowe doing his inspirational films based around a broken family and or individual, because this is where he excels greatly. This may be his best movie since Almost Famous. The cast he has here is very impressive, and they all do a great job across the board. Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson were both fantastic in the leads, but it’s the three youngest cast members Colin Ford, Elle Fanning, and Maggie Elizabeth Jones that really steal the show. Elle Fanning continues to prove to be a wonderful actress, and one I feel surpasses her more well-known sister. She’s someone to look out for. Families should be aware, there is some swearing in the film, but it is PG, so if you’re ok with your kids hearing a little bit of cursing, this is a movie that the whole family really will have fun watching. It’s funny, sweet, and altogether heartwarming and is definitely worth a buy.