Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: We Bought a Zoo

While We Bought a Zoo isn't exactly Cameron Crowe's grand return to relevance as a film auteur, it does prove that the wheels haven't fallen off quite as badly as they'd appeared to after the Elizabethtown debacle.

The drama, which tries so hard to be uplifting that it nearly gives itself a hernia in the process, tells the story of a wealthy single father who makes the bizarre decision to spend it all on a defunct zoo. It probably doesn't hurt that Scarlett Johansson is the zookeeper that comes with the property.

Matt Damon, finally looking something close to his age thanks to his longish, unkempt hair, keeps the main character relatable, if not quite understandable. There's an endearing, almost Fitzcarraldo-like irrational obsession to his character that keeps you from rolling your eyes as he continues his silly quest to indulge his ego.

It's much the same for Crowe, who decides to adapt a strange, navel-gazing book rather than tell a personal story like the ones that gave him his stature to begin with. Then again, if Elizabethtown is the only type of personal story left in Crowe's tank, maybe it's best that he went off in this new direction. 

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