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Watch: Matt Damon and Cameron Crowe Get Animal Crackers In Trailer For 'We Bought A Zoo'

by Oliver Lyttelton
September 14, 2011 6:25 AM
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It's been six long years since we last saw a Cameron Crowe (fictional) film on screen, but seeing that that film was the, frankly, disastrous "Elizabethtown," he's perhaps been missed less than he might have been otherwise. Still, the writer-director has enough great work behind him that we're always going to be interested in what he's putting out, and this Christmas sees the arrival of comeback film "We Bought A Zoo," which sees him team up with Matt Damon for the first time.

Based in fact, the film follows Ben (Damon), a single father who attempts to fulfill his late wife’s wish of moving their family to the titular animal sanctuary, along the way coming across the possibility of moving on thanks to a beautiful, spunky zookeeper (Scarlett Johansson). Elle Fanning, Thomas Haden Church, Angus MacFadyen, John Michael Higgins, J.B. Smoove and Patrick Fugit also star, while Sigur Ros member Jonsi is penning the score, and our first proper look at the film has arrived thanks to a trailer over at Apple.

And it looks more or less what we were expecting; Crowe staying pretty mainstream to back into the game, with sentiment higher on the agenda that laughs. The clip (scored by a snippet of Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More," and by "Hoppiola" by Sigur Ros, giving a taste of how Jonsi's score might sound) has some broad moments here that come a little close to "Mr. Popper's Penguins"-type comedy, but there's also a few bits that suggest at some of the emotional truthfulness that we'd hoped that Crowe might bring to Aline Brosh McKenna's script.

The kids look surprisingly decent, and, despite one moment channeling "Jerry Maguire," we're sure that Damon will be a solid center to the film, seeing as he's pretty much incapable of not doing that. And is that the inklings of a good Scarlett Johansson performance (who'll surely be glad, on this day of all days, that something authorized involving her has made its way onto the internet...) that we see? We'll find out how the film turns out on December 23rd.

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  • Her brother | September 15, 2011 12:18 PMReply

    Scarlett Johansson?

  • padre | September 15, 2011 1:46 AMReply

    A fat Damon looks uncomfortably like Philip Seymour Hoffman. As puffy as his gut is, most of the weight landed on his face. Nobody wants to pay to see that. He needs to get himself to the gym and uncover the A-lister buried under all the lard.

  • jimmiescoffee | September 15, 2011 1:18 AMReply

    wow. don't know what to think. but at this moment.....bad.

  • Fred | September 14, 2011 11:13 AMReply

    I do agree with your point and take on it; it's just a shame that so much weight (and apparent decisions to see or not see films) is given to trailers as they are very, very rarely indicative of quality films. They often make even some truly worthwhile films interchangeable with the I Don't Know How She Does Its of the world in those frequently unfortunate two minutes. Here's hoping that the cast and the Crowe touch of older days puts it over; I certainly won't be dissuaded by a trailer, no matter how bad it is. I remember being somewhat impressed by the Battle LA trailer last year and, well, we all know how that turned out.

  • Kim | September 14, 2011 11:01 AMReply

    I maybe one giant cliche, but this movie looks cute. Made me cry a little. Stupid Thomas Haden Church.

  • Ali | September 14, 2011 10:21 AMReply

    Horrible trailer...not intersted in this movie at all

  • rotch | September 14, 2011 9:21 AMReply


    I think we most agree that most of the issues with this trailer have too do with some poor decisions by whomever edited it and that there is a chance that the movie could be better. But you have to agree that the editor made some real poor choices, and filled it with every cliche imaginable.

    Despite the failure of Elizabeth town, I believe We Bought a Zoo has a significantly better cast and a more interesting story, so I still hold high hopes.

  • Fred | September 14, 2011 8:23 AMReply

    All the seasoned writers are surprised this is being sold in a cliched fashion? Crowe helped create many of the cliches of modern American cinema. How many good movies have had bad previews and vice versa and how would the trailers to Say Anything, Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous have been dissected if the blogosphere had been alive and well in those days? And truly, when has Crowe ever done anything that wasn't in significant part a sentiment fest? We're not talking about Gaspar Noe deciding to helm a Nicholas Sparks story here.

  • jon | September 14, 2011 7:43 AMReply

    I'm with Kevin.

  • Erik McClanahan | September 14, 2011 6:56 AMReply

    Agreed, looks very cliched, but Damon is incapable of giving a bad performance, and Thomas Haden Church and Scarlett Johansen both look good in this as well. It's gotta be better than Elizabethtown, right? (not exactly a high bar)

  • Matthew | September 14, 2011 6:50 AMReply

    Have to laugh at him wanting to give his kids "an authentic
    American experience" when this is adapted from a memoir about a family that took over Dartmoor Zoological Park in the English countryside. At least the real zoo is getting a sizeable donation from the filmakers.

  • Alex | September 14, 2011 6:49 AMReply

    Agree with rotch too. Cliche festival. Will make money tough. Like, a lot.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | September 14, 2011 6:39 AMReply

    Have to say, this looks awful.

  • Edward Davis | September 14, 2011 6:39 AMReply

    i agree with Rotch. I do like the use of the Tom Petty cut though.

  • rotch | September 14, 2011 6:36 AMReply

    'Hoppipolla' should be banned from every trailer or ad ever.

    And, don't get me wrong, I like everyone involved and have sort of hight hopes for the film, but this trailer is so full with cliches that it deserves at least half the snark you spent on the Twilight trailer yesterday. I mean, the quitting scene a la Jerry Maguire, the cute girl, the angsty tween, "This is what you want, it's not what I want" gazing to the horizon, "You don't need a lot of special knowledge to run a zoo, what you need is a lot of heart", "I like the animals, BUT I love the humans"... and so on.

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