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
Rom-com starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, based on the short story 'Baster' by Jeffrey "The Virgin Suicides" Eugenides
Another week, another Jennifer Aniston rom-com. This one's passable, but saddled with a problematic central plot device. Aniston plays Kassie, a broody New Yorker who decides to make a baby without doing the fun bit. She selects as her turkey-baster inseminator the generically handsome Roland (Watchmen's Patrick Wilson), something that makes Wally Mars (Jason Bateman) very sad, for in the grand tradition of male-female friendships in cinema, Wally fancies Kassie rotten. The title of the film gives away what happens next.
On the plus side, this seed-substitution hook is far from cliche. It's also unlikely to ever become a cliche, because the downside is that it's basically creepy. As central hooks for a romance go, "I got really drunk and switched sperm donations behind your back and I'm actually the father of your child" isn't exactly up there with "we'll always have Paris". So it's to Jason Bateman's credit that he comes across as likeable, despite the unforgivable nature of his spunky snafu.
Also emerging with credit is Jeff Goldblum who is the funniest thing in the film in a supporting role, while Aniston is more likeable opposite Bateman than she's been for a while. Her characters lately haven't had the best of luck: she's been locked in a car boot by a sinister Gerard Butler, wept at by a widowed Aaron Eckhart, upstaged by a dog in Marley And Me, and now surreptitiously impregnated by Jason Bateman. The days of Ross and Rachel and a haircut that was practically deified must feel very long ago.
An oddball premise that makes for uneasy comedy. However, if you watch just one insemination mix-up romance this year, this is the one to go for.
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