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"WE BOUGHT A ZOO"
(2011) (Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson) (PG)


Alcohol/Drugs Moderate
Blood/Gross Stuff Mild
Disrespectful/Bad Attitude Heavy
Frightening/Tense Scenes Moderate
Gun/Weapons Minor
Imitative Behavior Moderate
Jump Scenes Mild
Music (Scary/Tense) Minor
Music (Inappropriate) None
Profanity Moderate
Sex/Nudity Moderate
Smoking None
Tense Family Scenes Extreme
Topics to Talk About Extreme
Violence Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Hoping to keep his family together, a widower moves his kids out to a zoo property and then tries to get that place ready for the new season.
PLOT:
Benjamin Mee (MATT DAMON) is a reporter who worries about his kids following the death of their mother six months ago. Moody teenager Dylan (COLIN FORD) retreats into his macabre sketches when not acting up in school, and while his younger sister, Rosie (MAGGIE ELIZABETH JONES), has yet to show any signs of misbehaving, Benjamin is concerned that won't last. Accordingly, and after Dylan is expelled, Benjamin decides they all need a fresh start.

So he quits his job and buys a house to which a former small zoo is attached. Now run by the state, the place is set to be closed down soon, much to the relief of Benjamin's brother, Duncan (THOMAS HADEN CHURCH), who thinks the whole idea is harebrained at best. Undeterred by any of that, Benjamin decides he can reopen the place and thus sets out to make sure the small staff has everything they need.

That includes Kelly Foster (SCARLETT JOHANSSON), the head zookeeper who initially isn't sure the family knows what they're getting themselves into, a belief shared by other workers including Robin (PATRICK FUGIT), Rhonda (CARLA GALLO) and Peter (ANGUS MACFADYEN). Kelly's niece Lily (ELLE FANNING), however, is happy to see Dylan, although the feeling isn't initially mutual. And Peter is never happy to see Walter Ferris (JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS), the state inspector who occasionally makes surprise visits.

As Benjamin realizes running such a place involves a lot more work and cash than he imagined, he tries to get it ready for its grand reopening, all while hoping to bring his family closer together once again.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
The zoo animals angle might draw the interest of younger kids.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For language and some thematic elements.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MATT DAMON plays a recently widowed father and reporter who...


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