Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pre-Disappointment with We Bought A Zoo

You know the old adage that says "the book is better than the movie." And you've read those gripes before on a number of different book to film adaptations.

In the case of the upcoming Cameron Crowe film We Bought A Zoo, I found myself earlier in the year with this film on my "most anticipated list."

My wife and I read the memoir (We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals that Changed Their Lives Forever by Benjamin Mee) and we absolutely loved it.

The film's power for us, was not in the absurdity of the zoo purchase, but rather in the choices made by a husband and a wife who were making conscientious choices in how they raised their family (including a life in the French countryside pre-zoo) and how they dealt with cancer of a mother, and how they pulled together as a family upon the death of an aging father, and elderly mother left behind.

The novelty factor of it all is the zoo and the crazy idea of buying a zoo and making it a home, but everything powerful in the story seems sucked out of the story. For me the biggest disappoint seems to be the reduction of the role of the broader Mee family (who all have a part in the zoo purchase) as well as Katherine Mee (the lead character character's wife, in this case played by Stephanie Szostak) doesn't appear in the previews as all, and instead the title character of the film after Matt Damon as Benjamin Mee seems to focus on Kelly Foster, the parks caretaker, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.

The film's tag line a True Zoo Story bothers me as well. My wife and I watch the preview every time and voice our surprised disinterest, due to what appears to be an adaptation which took a great deal of liberty with the original text .

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