Parents' Guide to

We Bought a Zoo

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Family film tackles grief with humor and deep empathy.

Movie PG 2011 124 minutes
We Bought a Zoo Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 95 parent reviews

age 15+

beware of language

Beware, Easter Bunny spoiler.. not for your child if they still believe. I agree with many reviews that this story was great and ruined by a little girl calling a man di*k, with comical intent. If my daughter repeated that scene on the playground at school and called someone a d*ck then she'd be sent to the school office and disciplined.
age 10+

Heartwarming family flick

Some language, but overall a sweet film that deals with grief, evolving parent relationships, and the complexities of intentional living (sometimes things work out and sometimes life gets harder when you choose to chase a dream). The script is B-list but the A-list actors and story premise elevate this to a great family movie night pick.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (95 ):
Kids say (123 ):

How lovely it is to be able to sit back and watch Cameron Crowe and Matt Damon do what they do best: make a wonderful film. WE BOUGHT A ZOO may not be the most thrilling, suspenseful film, and it may not be a laugh-fest, but it's just the tonic for days when you feel hopeless about the world and, yes, about modern-day movies. It's earnest but not preachy, down to earth but not self-consciously so. (A scene in which Mee and his son lay their grief bare seems so, well, real.)

And, since it's a Cameron Crowe film, the music is awesome, if a little too perfect -- which could be said about the ensemble of actors as well. (That said, while Johansson is appealing, she does sometimes press too hard with her portrayal, giving her character a bit of stridency. Whether this is intentional isn't clear.) Parallel romantic storylines between two teens and two adults seem a little on the nose, and a supposed rivalry between two zookeeping icons is extraneous. But these are all forgivable quibbles. In the end, We Bought a Zoo wears its heart on its sleeve and is all the better for it.

Movie Details

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