We Bought A Zoo Parent Guide
This film 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.
Parent 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. Theatrical release December 23, 2011. Updated June 13, 2019
We Bought A Zoo
Rating & Content Info
Why is We Bought A Zoo rated PG? We Bought A Zoo is rated PG by the MPAA for language and some thematic elements.
Violence: Characters discuss the theft of a cash box. A man throws darts at the picture of someone he dislikes. An angry boy kicks an animal. A father and son argue loudly. A man confronts a bear that has escaped from his cage. The animal is shot with a tranquilizer. Characters discuss putting down an old animal. Other characters have loud discussions. Characters pull frozen rats out of the freezer to feed reptiles.
Sexual Content: Characters make several sexually suggestive comments. A man makes a veiled lewd remark to a woman. A couple kisses. A picture is seen of a naked pregnant woman with her arms carefully placed to cover private body parts.
Language: A child calls an adult a crude anatomical term. The script also contains over a dozen profanities, scatological slangs and terms of Deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink on several occasions, sometimes to deal with stress. One character comes to work while drunk.
Page last updated June 13, 2019
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”?
Release Date: 23 December 2011
The most recent home video release of We Bought A Zoo movie is April 3, 2012. Here are some details…
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
Related home video titles:
Another widower faces challenges raising his family alone in the movie Dan in Real Life. Two confirmed bachelors get stuck providing care for their great nephew and an unusual pet in Secondhand Lions. An economically strapped father attempts to provide a decent life for his son after his wife abandons them in The Pursuit of Happyness.