After a six-year hiatus from directing feature films, Cameron Crowe will return to the big screen this winter with the "based on true events" family flick We Bought A Zoo, the real life story of Benjamin Mee, a father of two who moves his family in to a dilapidated zoo in order to operate it and create a better living environment for his children.
What's immediately surprising about the trailer is its very earnest tone. Crowe's previous work, such as Jerry MaGuire and Almost Famous, were much more cynical and, in the case of Vanilla Sky, almost surreal and psychological. This departure from the norm may be a bit of a shock for Crowe heads, but the man is a great storyteller and can find value in even the most lifeless of genre.
And to help Crowe create a film that the whole family can enjoy, a pretty solid cast will lend their talents to the fluffball premise. Matt Damon looks to be the emotional anchor of this film, as the trailer hints at a very poignant performance that doesn’t seem too melodramatic. He's backed up by Scarlett Johansson, which implies that the recent photo leak victim might have finally shown off her acting skills, and not, her...well, you know. Thomas Hayden Church and hilarious Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star J.B. Smoove round out a supporting cast that should give the film the energy that most family comedies simply don’t have. Even the child actors, Colin Ford and Maggie Elizabeth Jones, seem more than tolerable.
Simply stated, We Bought A Zoo is a family flick made by exceptionally talented people. There's a director of considerable vision, a strong ensemble, and a premise that, at the very least, is unique. The trailer isn't a knockout, but it's endearing enough to leave us optimistic. What say you? We’ll see if Cameron Crowe can elevate We Bought A Zoo above the typical one-dimensional family film when it hits theaters on December 23rd.