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We Bought A Zoo


Latest Home Video

Apr 03, 2012

MPAA Rating:


Run Time:



Cameron Crowe


Matt Damon

Scarlett Johansson

Thomas Haden Church


2011 Twentieth Century Fox

Official Website >>

Still shot from the movie: We Bought A Zoo.

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Overall B+
Run Time124

Making the Grades

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.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about We Bought A Zoo.

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:

Release Date: 23 December 2011

Trailers & Clips

Canadian Movie Ratings

PG Coarse Language.
ON PG Language May Offend.

Canadian Home Video Rating: PG

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Details on home video releases of We Bought A Zoo...

Home Video Notes: We Bought A Zoo

Release Date: 3 April 2012

We Bought a Zoo release to home video as a Blu-ray Combo Pack. Bonus extras include:

- Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy of feature film

- Deleted & Extended Scenes: Elevator Empathy, A Gift From Ronnie, Life is Elemental, Thank You, Rhonda, Rosie Names Her Peacocks, Quick Learner, Just Can’t Get a Handle On It, So Much Bloodshed, Buster is Loose, Utterly Free / Nobody Died, I Make My Own Hours, The Stuff is Alive, We’re Living The Story, Disaffected Youth, It’s Their Zoo, Too, Goodnight Big Mac, Such a Cliché, Sorry About the Rain, Benjamin’s Big Speech and Opening Day.

- Gag Reel

- “The Real Mee”

- “We Shot a Zoo”

- “Their Happy is Too Loud”

- Audio Commentary with Director Cameron Crowe, Star J.B. Smoove and Editor Mark Livolsi

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W Allen says: Nov. 26, 2011

We enjoyed this heart-warming story very much.  It’s about struggling with deep loss, overcoming challenges and moving on after losing someone you love. 
We recall very little, if any, language and no sexual content, but we would not take our 6-year-old and probably not our 8-year-old.  There are some elements that would upset younger children.  The children in the story have lost their mother.  The teen boy draws multiple pictures that are dark and angry.  There are several scenes where people are in dangerous situations with large wild animals.  There is some discord between the father and teenage son that explodes a few times.  Alcohol is used repeatedly. 
There are also many positive elements.  The father in this story is devoted to his children, the animals, his employees and the memory of his late wife.  It made us both laugh and cry.  We will recommend this movie to our friends.

Andy Allyn says: Jan. 16, 2012

This is a great movie, but not for children.  It really had potential to be a very family-friendly movie.  The story is a good one but the language is off the charts for a PG movie.  Be prepared to hear, Sh_ _, bullish_ _, d_ _ n, hell, a_ _ hole, a seven year old girl calling an adult a d_ _k, and the implication that the tooth fairy isn’t real.  Also be prepared for some very graphic and disturbing drawings by the son.

In my opinion, it should have been a PG-13 movie.  I don’t quite understand how it could be in the same rating category as “Annie” and “Stuart Little”.

Mom-of-4 says: Jan. 20, 2012

After seeing all the previews for this movie, I jumped at the chance to take our kids to it—ages 9, 7, 6, and 4.  This was a mistake on my part.  I did not notice that it was rated PG and not rated G.  There was a good bit of cussing in the movie, but I can overlook some of that because kids hear that just about everywhere you turn…and my kids know that it is not acceptable language for a child.  But when a 7 year old in the movie (who looks more like a 5 year old)—-looks at an adult and says “Everyone thinks you are a D***.  I don’t know what that means, but I don’t think you are one.” , I was totally shocked. 

And the movie basically says that there is no Easter Bunny either.  Luckily, it only kept the attention of my oldest child, and the other 3 did not pick up on that one. 

I am assuming that these few lines were put in the movie to bring it up to a PG rating to hopefully draw move audiences, but they could have easily been left out and not affected the overall theme of the movie.

I know Matt Damon has done some films with higher ratings, but I guess I was dumb to expect him at this stage in his life (a good family man with 4 small kids) to do what seems to be a family film.  If you take out the cussing, the movie would be a fine family film, but I would not recommend it for small children or anyone who still believes in the Easter Bunny.

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