Genre: Comedy

Director: Cameron Crowe

Stars: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church

***

 

Cameron Crowe might not seem on surface the first choice for a family friendly comedy, but a closer look at his work — from Almost Famous to Jerry Maguire — proves otherwise. Crowe’s pictures almost always deal with family situations, mostly unorthodox, but always gripped by truth and sentimentality.

 

His adaptation of the bestselling book, We Bought a Zoo, is really just another Crowe joint: melancholy yet joyous, optimistic and truthful.

 

Matt Damon is in fine form as the still-aching widow who moves his two children to a dilapidated country zoo and he’s matched by Scarlett Johansen as a feisty zookeeper. Kids will love it too (if my 5-year-old son Jack’s engagement is any indication), not just for the plethora of funny animals, but because of the simple, warm dramatic plotting, gentle laughs and general upbeat vibe. Though less liberal parents should be warned that a few choice PG-pushing expletives do rear their heads from time to time.