Posted on Saturday, December 24th, 2011 by Angie Han
Cameron Crowe‘s We Bought a Zoo unfolds in the kind of universe where characters say things like “If you do something for the right reasons, nothing can stop you,” and indeed, it turns out that if your heart is in the right place, Mother Nature herself will stop and part the clouds to make your dreams come true. It’s a place where “Why not?” is a perfectly valid response to the question “What on earth possessed you to buy a zoo?” and where “insane courage” guarantees a desirable outcome. If all of that sounds cringingly sappy, well, it kind of is. But Crowe tells the tale with such genuine feeling that it’s tough not to fall for the movie’s charms all the same.
Based on the memoir by Benjamin Mee, the film follows a freshly widowed father (Matt Damon) who, in an unconventional attempt at self-therapy, moves himself and his two children Dylan and Rosie (Colin Ford and Maggie Elizabeth Jones) into a decrepit zoo. With the help of a small but devoted staff (Patrick Fugit, Elle Fanning, Angus Macfadyen) led by zookeeper Kelly (Scarlett Johansson), the family sets about renovating the park for a grand reopening.
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I’m a huge fan of director Cameron Crowe, and Almost Famous is one of my favorite films of all time. Before I started /Film, one of the websites I use to check on a regular basis was a Cameron Crowe fansite called The Uncool (which, yes, is a brilliant reference from Almost Famous). The guy who owned the blog, Greg Mariotti, you might know from another film blog called PixarTalk (he’s appeared on the /filmcast as well), sold the site years ago to Crowe himself.
Cameron brought Greg on to help with his official site, which was a cool looking flash-designed dysfunctional mess, and the blog folded. Updates became few and far between. Recently Mariotti relaunched The Uncool as a stand-alone official blog, which is allowing him to post all sorts of cool Cameron Crowe-related material. I’ve been looking for an excuse to write about the blog for the past month, and now I have one.
Today Greg posted an article titled “5 Things I Learned About We Bought a Zoo”, which includes photos and observations from visiting the California-based se of his new film, a big screen adaptation of We Bought a Zoo which stars Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, John Michael Higgins, Angus MacFadyen, Patrick Fugit, and more. I’ve never been to the set of a Cameron Crowe film, so I’ll have to live vicariously through Greg’s reports… but maybe someday? Head over to TheUncool to learn about the changes that Cameron has taken from Benjamin Mee‘s book, technical details (yes, the movie is being shot on film), details on Cameron’s new partnership with Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto and more. I’m sure he has more, which will likely be posted in future updates.