Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Angus Macfadyen, Elle Fanning, Patrick Fugit, John Michael Higgins, Carla Gallo, J.B. Smoove, Stephanie Szostak, Michael Panes, Kym Whitley
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Comedy drama written and directed by Cameron Crowe loosely based on memoir of the same name by Benjamin Mee. We Bought a Zoo (2011) follows journalist Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon), who after his wife’s death decides to make a fresh start by quitting his job and moving his children, Dylan and Rosie (Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones), to a dilapidated zoo cared for by Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson) and her small staff, and taking on the challenge of preparing the zoo for its reopening to the public.
Our Favorite Quotes:
Dylan Mee: My dad is a writer who specialized in adventure. He interviewed dangerous dictators. He even flew into the center of hurricane Charlie. It was a category four storm. He knew the ins and outs of strange and exotic adventure, backwards and forwards. But nothing prepared him for this one.
Benjamin Mee: You know what? “Whatever” is the laziest word of the twentieth century, alright? I’ve had it with whatever! I don’t want to hear it again in this century, ever again. “Whatever” is over!
Rosie Mee: He says it all the time. He won’t have anything left to say in this century.
Benjamin Mee: I’m not letting you out of the car until I get a new word.
Dylan Mee: Pernicious.
Benjamin Mee: Thank you! Good word.
Duncan Mee: Benjamin, I’ve arrived at a thought.
Benjamin Mee: Tell me, Dunc.
Duncan Mee: I believe you should court the girl we met at Jamba Juice. She’s a stunner.
Benjamin Mee: She keeps calling me to go hiking.
Duncan Mee: Benjamin, hike her.
Benjamin Mee: Is she a stunner? I mean, is that what they call a stunner now? I mean, what do I know? I was spoiled, I had the real thing.
Duncan Mee: Look, you got to let a little sun light in. Okay? Human interaction is a good thing. Take it from a guy who spent six months on a commercial fishing boat in Bali trying to find himself. Alright? Yeah. You know what I found? I missed people. So just do me a favor, attempt to start over.
Benjamin Mee: I shall try to start over.
Duncan Mee: You’re handsome!
Benjamin Mee: And so are you!
Duncan Mee: I love you, my brother.
Benjamin Mee: I love you too, man.
Duncan Mee: You’re a good guy.
Duncan Mee: Sunlight. Human interaction.
Benjamin Mee: Got it!
Duncan Mee: Joy.
Delbert McGinty: You know what? Bad things happen, you just keep going.
Benjamin Mee: I quit.
Delbert McGinty: Benjamin. You lost your wife, man! In some quarters sympathy would be considered the appropriate response.
Benjamin Mee: No, I’m not going to sit around here, and spin my wheels, and live in a state of sponsored pity.
Delbert McGinty: Please! Let me lay you off, so you can get the benefit.
Benjamin Mee: That’s more sympathy! No! I quite! And I love you. And those patched elbows.
Delbert McGinty: You’re killing me.
Benjamin Mee: I’ll miss you.
Benjamin Mee: [as Dylan has stolen some school money] Classy. Real classy.
Dylan Mee: They left the cash box right on the counter. It’s kind of their fault, if you think about it.
Benjamin Mee: That’s three suspensions in one semester. That’s got to be some kind of record.
Dylan Mee: Yeah, well. Maybe I’ll get a prize.
Principal: We’re a three strike school, Mr. Mee. And today was his fourth strike. I’m sorry, we have to expel Dylan. But, as one parent to another, I would examine his inner life.
Dylan Mee: You think he was expelling me for my artwork.
Benjamin Mee: I can almost live with the artwork. I mean, if Charles Manson needed a personal muralist, you’d be the guy. But, no. He didn’t expel you because of the artwork. He expelled you because you stole. You stole! Breaks my heart.
Benjamin Mee: Hey, Rosie, am I doing anything right?
Rosie Mee: You’re handsomer than the other dads. Lots of them don’t have hair, so that’s good.
Benjamin Mee: Awesome. I’m going to take baldness off my list of things to worry about.
Benjamin Mee: We just want new. We want new, new everything, new opportunities, new schools. Just new.
Mr. Stevens: In the current economic environment you’re going to find that now the buyer is not the king.
Benjamin Mee: What I’m hoping for is like a big back yard, substantial. You know, just rolling hills.
Mr. Stevens: It’s going to be very hard to find rolling hills in the city. It’s not available.
Benjamin Mee: Then stationary hills.
Mr. Stevens: You know what? It’s all about new. People love new. I love new. Hell, I’m new! Excuse my language, but I’m new. Hell, I’m new!
Benjamin Mee: I’m glad you’re excited about it.
Mr. Stevens: I know. I’m excited about new stuff. New, is the new old.
Benjamin Mee: New.
Mr. Stevens: New, new, new!
Rosie Mee: I like you.
Mr. Stevens: I like you too, Rosie.
'I'm a big fan of people being exactly who they are.' - Kelly Foster (We Bought a Zoo) Click To Tweet
Benjamin Mee: [after seeing the house] I mean, what we do with eighteen acres?
Mr. Stevens: Well, let me be honest with you. Rosemoor property has some challenges.
Benjamin Mee: Well, what doesn’t?
Mr. Stevens: True. But this situation, I’m going to go for the word ‘unique’.
Benjamin Mee: We’re going to live here.
Mr. Stevens: Oh, Mr. Mee, we have to talk. Okay? Let’s not rush into things.
Benjamin Mee: This place is perfect. Why didn’t you mention it earlier?
Mr. Stevens: Well, it’s a bit complicated.
Benjamin Mee: Complicated is okay. Complicated can be great. We love complicated, right? What’s so complicated about this place?
Mr. Stevens: Well, you see, it’s…
Benjamin Mee: What is it?
Mr. Stevens: It has complications to it, Mr. Mee. And it’s a zoo.
Benjamin Mee: Well, thanks. I mean, I don’t know anything about animals, zoos. I mean, it’s…
Mr. Stevens: It is.
Benjamin Mee: It is what it is.
Mr. Stevens: It is what it is. Sometimes you don’t know what it is until you see what it is. You know? Once you see what it is, then you can figure out is, it is what it is. You understand?
Benjamin Mee: No, but we can move on.
Mr. Stevens: Yeah.
Duncan Mee: [after Benjamin’s told him he’s buying a zoo] I said human interaction. This is what happens when people have a, you know what, occur in their lives. They wake up one day, and they say, “I’m going to quit my job and try something completely different with my life.” But then they wake up another day, and they say to themselves, “Thank God my older brother didn’t let me blow Dad’s inheritance by buying a broken down zoo, in the country, nine miles from the nearest Target store.”
Benjamin Mee: But maybe my older brother didn’t see this place.
Duncan Mee: I’m begging you, do what other people do, go to Vegas, lose a little bit of money. Or do what I did when Sheila left me.
Benjamin Mee: Start handicapping horses.
Duncan Mee: Well, that was a little misguided.
Benjamin Mee: Go into commercial surfing business and call myself Captain Dunc. Start cliff diving in Acapulco at the age of thirty eight.
Duncan Mee: I miss Sheila, man.
Benjamin Mee: I know, man. I know.
Duncan Mee: Alright, forget that! Forget all that. Don’t do what I did. Travel the stages of grief, yet stop just before zebra’s get involved.
Benjamin Mee: It’s only two zebra’s.
Duncan Mee: Uh-huh.
Benjamin Mee: And a lion, and a jaguar, and forty seven other species, seven of which are endangered, and all of them are saved the second we make this deal. The kids are going to be so psyched.
Duncan Mee: Really? Psyched. Are they really going to be psyched?
Benjamin Mee: So what did we talk about? A new place, a new start.
Dylan Mee: This is what you want. It’s not what I want!
Benjamin Mee: What?
Dylan Mee: It’s a zoo. I’m moving to a zoo.
Rosie Mee: We bought a zoo!
Benjamin Mee: [they hit their forks together] Yes, we did. We did buy a zoo. Give me some fork.
Benjamin Mee: [to Kelly and the other zookeepers] This is Rosie, my daughter. And my big boy, Dylan. And our dog, Leon. And this is our zoo now, I guess. And love the house, smells and all. Right? So I would like to declare us all modern day adventurers. And sponsors of animal greatness.
Kelly Foster: This is Buster, he’s our six hundred fifty pound North American Grizzly. He was seven-seventy, but he’s been stressed out. You know, he’s moody. We had him on Paxil, but we can’t afford it, so he’s occasionally depressed. He can still rip your arm off though.
Benjamin Mee: Hey, there, Buster. Are you missing the meds?
Benjamin Mee: [suddenly the bear roars in response] Woh!
'Secret to talking is listening.' - Kelly Foster (We Bought a Zoo) Click To Tweet
Rosie Mee: [referring to the tigers] I thought they would roar like a lion.
Kelly Foster: No, no, tigers and lions are very different. Tigers don’t growl or roar, they chuff. Like a…
Kelly Foster: [makes a chuffing noise and Rosie imitates] Yeah, when you chuff at them they chuff back.
Kelly Foster: That guy there, that’s Spar. He’s our oldest, he’s seventeen. He’s a Bengal tiger. You know tigers have a special sensors in the front of their two inch canines. They can actually detect the pulse in your aorta. So when they attack, they bite you, take your pulse with their teeth, reposition those suckers and boom! There goes your carotid.
Rosie Mee: Wow!
Kelly Foster: Yeah.
Kelly Foster: So there’s a few decisions you’ll have to make straight away, Ben.
Benjamin Mee: Benjamin. Ben was my dad.
Kelly Foster: Spar, you just met the tiger, he’s going to need some special care so we have a large animal vet coming from San Diego. It’s just that he’s a fortune to get here, and…
Benjamin Mee: That’s okay. I’ll pay.
Kelly Foster: Well, no. He’s also very old, so the truth is we don’t really know how much longer he’s got, and I…
Benjamin Mee: Just step it up.
Benjamin Mee: The posts and the cages.
Kelly Foster: Posts and what? They’re not called cages, they’re called enclosures. They haven’t been cages in like a century. My brief marriage, that was a cage.
Benjamin Mee: Not mine.
Kelly Foster: I have a question for you. You’re some random guy from the city, no one in the zoo community has ever heard of you. You know nothing about animals, and you moved into a dump. I mean, what kind of regular person just up and buys a place like this? Especially somebody with kids. Why? You have no idea what we’ve been dealing with here. We used to have three times the staff, they all quit. I’m twenty eight. I never go out. I’m here every day. My girlfriends, they text me, they’re out living their lives meeting guys named Brett, and I’m here shoveling s**t. Bear s**t! I’m pathetic! I had to move back in with my mother. No one gets paid, Ben-jamin. We need somebody who can really take charge of this place, or else we and all these animals are gone.
Benjamin Mee: So your question is?
Kelly Foster: Why did you buy this place?
Benjamin Mee: Why not?