Emotionally overwrought and rather cheesy, Cameron Crowe's first film since the hugely disappointing Elizabethtown still has a certain charm that's hard to define. It could be Matt Damon's almost foppish lead, or it could be that this is based on a true story; either way, despite its flaws, it's still a difficult film to dislike. Damon is single father of two kids, Benjamin Mee, who just lost his wife to a terminal disease. Still struggling to come to terms with what has happened to his family, and searching for something outside the box to help fill the gaping hole that losing the love of your life creates, he comes across a rundown zoo in need of some tender loving care.
he aforementioned zoo is manned by an eclectic mixture of misfits; with a connection soon developing with Scarlett Johansson's inexplicably attractive zookeeper. Off the bat Damon's Bee is a little difficult to like; he walks away from his job and forgoes any sort of financial compensation in the process. We're meant to believe that he did this purely for his pride, but when the obligatory financial difficulties arise later in the film it's an even tougher pill to swallow - especially when you factor in that this is all based on a true story. There's also a grating overuse of the word man that becomes noticeable early on, and then hard to ignore as proceedings moves along.
hat does work, and work very well, is the relationship between Ben and his son. That really should've been the core of the movie, and it's a shame that it instead moves off into a typical love story subplot, which, naturally, is glaringly transparent from the opening exchanges between said characters. This is a different role for Damon; here he's less atypical quarter back handsome, and more awkward and insular; his pairing with Cameron Crowe should've really been better Warm and sporadically lovely with a great core message, it's still somewhat lacking for the slew of talent involved.