mMM...who doesn’t love a hefty scoop of cinematic schmaltz with their overpriced Ben and Jerry’s sundae?
I know I do if I’m particularly in the mood for an onslaught of misty-eyed scenes of whimsy backed by lashings of Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens telling me how to feel.
That’s what you get with Cameron Crowe’s heart-string tugathon, We Bought A Zoo – based on the memoirs of a journalist who jacks in the day-to-day deadline grind for zoo-keeping after losing his wife to a brain tumour.
Here we have a decidedly pudgy Matt Damon pulling on some equally chunky knitwear to play the American Everydad, Benjamin Mee (the story was of course transported from its English roots to California – land of sunshine).
Constantly reminded of his recently deceased wife – and with a fridge full of lasagne from pitying neighbours – Benjamin decides things need to change if he’s ever going to move on.
He gives up the day job and triggered by his son’s expulsion from school, sets out to find a new neighbourhood, one that isn’t haunted by the past.
But when an estate agent trying to suit Ben’s specifications leads him to a fully working zoo for sale, as the title gives away, he buys it, investing in all that comes with it including a depressed bear, a sickly tiger and a ragtag bunch of zoo workers led by Scarlett Johansson’s pouty lips.
It’s the sort of super-sweet film Crowe thrives on – this is the man who gave us Elizabethtown, lest we forget – and will generally speaking only appease the director’s die-hard fans.
But to its credit it is pitched at the patient family audience, where the kids can smile at cute animals and, getting a break from taking them to see the latest Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks blockbuster, the parents get to sit through a family film with more adult issues at work.