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Film Review

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We Bought A Zoo







Benjamin Mee has been grieving the loss of his wife, Katherine, for seven months. When his 14-year-old son Dylan is expelled from school, Benjamin realizes that the family's current situation is not working, they are all grieving, and everything around them reminds them of Katherine. Benjamin decides to make a fresh start, starting with a new home.

He tours many homes with his 7-year-old daughter, Rosie, and their realtor, Mr. Stevens, but find none to their liking until Rosie sees a listing for a large old house. Mr. Stevens tries to dissuade them from considering it, but as they tour the grounds, Benjamin declares that "it's perfect". Stevens explains that if they want the house, then they must also buy the zoo on the property which closed several years before. Benjamin, seeing Rosie playing happily with the peacocks, resolves to buy the zoo.

Dylan, frustrated by the idea of moving away from his friends, retreats into his art. Benjamin's brother, Duncan, tries to discourage him from the purchase, but he buys it anyway.

The zoo staff, led by head keeper Kelly Foster, start making renovations to reopen the zoo to the public. When Kelly asks Benjamin why he bought the zoo despite knowing nothing about zoo management, he simply responds, "Why not?" Meanwhile, Dylan is very unhappy and misses his friends, causing him to retreat further into his art. He is soon befriended by Kelly's 13-year-old homeschooled cousin, Lily, who develops a crush on him.

Walter Ferris, a strict USDA inspector, arrives for a surprise visit and makes a list of repairs that would cost over $100,000. Benjamin cannot afford the repairs and gossip spreads that he will probably sell the zoo. The staff's morale sinks, fearing the property will be sold to a buyer that will close it down. Dylan is overjoyed when Lily tells him the rumor about his family leaving, which hurts her feelings.

Benjamin learns that Katherine bequeathed him an investment account with instructions to use the money wisely while listening to his heart. Duncan advises him to walk away and start over with the money, but Benjamin decides to use the money for the repairs.

Dylan, unhappy about having to stay, confronts his father and they have a heated argument. They reconcile the next morning and Dylan admits he misses Lily. Benjamin tells Dylan his favorite motto: that you only need 20 seconds of courage for something great to happen. Benjamin realizes that instead of trying to start over by forgetting his wife, he should accept that she will always be a part of him. Dylan, following his father's advice, confesses his love to Lily, and she forgives him.

Prior to the zoo's grand opening, the facility passes a stringent inspection by Ferris, who grudgingly wishes them good luck. They learn that the worst rainstorm in 100 years may wash out the zoo's grand opening. Fortunately, the weather clears by the morning of the grand opening, but they are disappointed when it appears that no one is visiting.

Dylan discovers that a fallen tree has blocked the access road with a large crowd of visitors waiting behind it. The staff help everyone climb over the tree, and the attendance is so high that they run out of tickets. Benjamin and Kelly set out to find more and end up face to face in a shed, where Kelly admits that she has a crush on Benjamin and they kiss.

Benjamin takes Dylan and Rosie to the restaurant where he met Katherine. He tells them the story of how he worked up the nerve to approach her table with "20 seconds of insane courage." He visualizes her at the table, and asks why such an amazing woman would talk to someone like him. She responds, "Why not?"









Elle Fanning

71 % 68 % 62 % 65 %    |    71 %
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Updated - 20/11/2023

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