Peter Bradshaw 

We Bought a Zoo – review

In this traditional, sweet-natured family film, Matt Damon plays a handsome widower, bringing up two kids, who impulsively buys a dilapidated zoo in California, writes Peter Bradshaw
  
  

A ladle of Hollywood treacle has been added to the 2007 memoir by former Guardian journalist Benjamin Mee about his family's inspirational adventure in buying and refitting a tumbledown zoo – Dartmoor Wildlife Park in Devon. In real life, Mee's wife became ill while they were buying the zoo; in the movie she dies before the opening credits, a glowing and safely indistinct memory. Mee (Matt Damon) plays a handsome widower bringing up two kids, and when he impulsively buys a dilapidated zoo in California, there just happens to be a gorgeous yet sensible woman on staff called Kelly, played by Scarlett Johansson. It's a bit sucrose, especially at the beginning, but this traditional, sweet-natured family film will tug on the heartstrings as Mee works through his grief by dealing with the challenge of a dying tiger. It's an easy-going, likable film.

 

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