We Bought A Zoo parents guide

We Bought A Zoo Parent Review

Overall B+

Feeling lost after the death of his wife, Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) tries to reinvent his life by quitting his job and buying a dilapidated zoo. This meets with mixed reactions from his two children.

Violence B
Sexual Content B
Profanity C+
Substance Use C+

Why is We Bought A Zoo rated PG? The MPAA rated We Bought A Zoo PG for language and some thematic elements.
Latest home video release April 3, 2012
Run Time: 124 minutes
Official Movie Site

Movie Review

The last thing Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) wants is more sympathy—real or affected. Following the death of his wife Katherine (Stephanie Szostak) he’s been inundated with lasagnas from single moms at school and given soft assignments at the office. Finally, in frustration, he quits his job and goes house shopping with his young daughter Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) and an eager new real estate agent (J.B. Smoove).

Looking for a way to move past his loss, he purchases a rundown wildlife park complete with exotic animals, equally unusual staff members and a long list of needed improvements. Rosie is thrilled. Benjamin’s 14-year-old son Dylan (Colin Ford) is not. Neither is Benjamin’s older brother Duncan (Thomas Haden Church). Even the head zookeeper (Scarlett Johansson) and the other employees are leery of the new owner who has no experience and limited cash.

Based on the life of the real Benjamin Mee and his family who bought a zoo in England in 2006, this adaptation takes place in Southern California. But while repairing animal enclosures (the term “cage” is antiquated) and caring for the creatures take most of the family’s time, dealing with their heartache becomes the dominant driver of the storyline.

Depictions of drinking (including an inebriated employee) and more than a dozen profanities appear in this script, along with infrequent moments of peril involving animals. Yet the greatest conflicts occur when the humans engage in brief, but intense, arguments.

Still the movie offers audiences of older children, teens and their parents a positive story about meeting difficulties, exercising courage and reaching out to one another in the face of grief.

Directed by Cameron Crowe . Starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church. Running time: 124 minutes. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence   Content Info

We Bought A Zoo Parents Guide

What does the principal think of Dylan’s art project that is displayed in the school hall? How unusual would his work be in a real junior high or high school? How does his painting reflect his internal emotional state?

How does Benjamin react differently with his children? Why is it harder for him to connect with Dylan than with Rosie? Does he have unrealistic expectations for his son? Why or why not?

What would you be willing to try if you only had to exercise “20 seconds of insane courage”?

You can find Benjamin Mee’s story at bookstores or your local library. Learn more about the real family’s zoo here: http://www.dartmoorzoo.org/

Release Date: 23 December 2011