We Bought a Zoo
A widowed father played by Matt Damon moves to the South Californian country and purchases a zoo with his family
On Film4: 31 Aug 6:25PM
Woodland creatures wage a dirty campaign of destruction against property developer Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) in this children's slapstick comedy
Cruel Intentions director Roger Kumble doffs his hat to Chevy Chase for this full-on kid's film in which vengeance is messily enacted upon a property developer by a variety of furred and feathered friends whose habitat is under threat from his supposedly eco-friendly employers. Although this set up is in essence an envionmentally aware excuse to make Home Alone meets The Animals Of Farthing Wood, it's interesting that the villains of the piece aren't old-school developers who say 'screw the environment' - these are the much more insidious type who claim to be a responsible eco-friendly company. Naturally, the animals here know greenwash when they hear it; if only politicians were this aware.
The animals' solution to their problem should please those in the 5 - 12 year old age bracket, since it mainly involves booby traps and sabotage, more often than not incorporating a healthy dose of excreta, and at one point a lady's brazierre. A dirty protest of squirrel poo, skunk odour and racoon urine is unleashed against Brendan Fraser, who casts caution, and possibly the chance of ever being cast again as a romantic lead, to the winds and gives himself up entirely to wringing every last possible inch of slapstick out of a variety of humilating scenarios. Forget Sean Penn and Dustin Hoffman's method creations, this is the definition of a performance without vanity.
Unusually for a modern family movie, the animals (who in a possible nod to classic Tom & Jerry, never speak) aren't portrayed using animation - in the majority of shots a variety of actual critters have been filmed, then computers used to tweak their facial expressions or relocate them opposite a human actor. Apparently, the only other trickery involved was building a scaled set necessary to make a 5'11" bear look more threatening opposite 6'3" Fraser.
Not a film where viewers will learn an awful lot, this is aimed fair and square at entertaining children and perhaps their parent's inner children. In this aim, it succeeds.
If Mr Bean and the inmates of a petting zoo starred in Jackass: Junior Edition, this would be roughly the result.
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