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We Bought A Zoo

December 23, 2011

There’s a moment early on in this just-released trailer for Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo in which Matt Damon—a sad-eyed widower nobly resisting the come-ons of casserole-toting single moms—makes a loud, grandstanding exit from his soulless corporate job, and that's when you know: This is definitely a Cameron Crowe movie. Specifically, it’s a Cameron Crowe movie in the mold of Jerry Maguire or Elizabethtown, where a recently defeated man upends his world and finds himself (and that one special lady) along the way, and his long journey toward opening his heart will tread that signature Cameron Crowe line between sincerity and quirk-ridden schmaltz.

Of course, that last bit should be obvious even before watching this preview: As its ABC Family-ready title suggests, We Bought A Zoo is a film (based on a true story, so blame reality) about a man who abandons the stress of city life and—actual record scratch—relocates his family to a rundown zoo to begin caring for its many exotic animals, who in turn teach him many valuable lessons about being open to new experiences, or letting nature take its course, or devoting his life to something bigger than himself. Probably all of those things, plus some stuff about his estranged son. Anyway, when he’s not absorbing all of this by exchanging meaningful gazes with a tiger, Damon puts these lessons into practice by stalking the equally exotic Scarlett Johansson, while occasionally hitting up pal Thomas Haden Church to restock on faux-philosophical maxims. And then sometimes J.B. Smoove drops by and visibly strains to avoid saying “fuck.” Also, bears.