Tag Archives: Matt Damon

We Bought a Zoo (2011)

I love Cameron Crowe. He’s one of my favourite directors. Almost Famous is among my top five movies of all time, and I even enjoy his “lesser” films like Elizabethtown and Singles quite a bit. So when I heard that he was releasing a new movie last year, I was excited. Sure, the premise didn’t sound too exciting (a family buys an abandoned zoo and tries to get it back up and running), but anything Crowe is going to grab my interest. My faith waned a little bit thanks to a fairly sappy looking trailer, and the eventual response to the film (lukewarm reviews, and a general lack of interest from the public). But I went out and saw it today, and I’ll go as far as to say that this is a great film.

Okay, first of all, I will say that We Bought a Zoo has its flaws. It’s a family film, and at times, things get a little to precious and predictable. Some jokes fall flat, and some of the minor characters feel more like caricatures. But none of that really mattered to me in the end, because the film has so much heart. The relationship between Matt Damon’s character and his children is very warm, and as an viewer, you’re really rooting for them to make everything work out.

Speaking of Matt Damon, he is great here. It’s a mature, varied performance, and he plays a father very well. He hits the right emotions, and he brings a lot of warmth to the screen. Thomas Hayden Church also stands out as his brother, adding a lot of humour, and also sympathy to the character. The biggest surprise in the cast for me was Colin Ford, who plays Damon’s 14-year-old son. He’s very convincing as a moody, grieving teenager, and he brings the right combination of petulance and pathos to his portrayal. I was unfamiliar with Ford as an actor, but his screen presence here has me convinced that I’ll be seeing a lot more of him. Elle Fanning is also luminous in a smaller role. She’s proven to be highly charismatic and charming in films like Somewhere and Super 8, and she does similarly great work here with more limited screen time here. It’s also worth noting that this is one of Scarlett Johansson’s best performances. Her character is very well-defined by Crowe, and Johansson picks up on the nuances well.

As with all Cameron Crowe films, We Bought a Zoo also has a great soundtrack. Crowe digs out lots of old favourites, including Neil Young and Bob Dylan, but he also uses Bon Iver’s “Holocene” to nice effect. It’s also great to hear Temple of Dog’s “Hunger Strike” pop up, which is a neat little nod to Crowe’s love of 90’s grunge. Sigur Ros’ Jonsi also provides an original score the film, which is fantastic. It’s triumphant and uplifting, and that score adds a lot of emotional heft to several scenes. Crowe is a master of music, and the soundtrack is always one of my favourite elements of his films.

We Bought a Zoo is certainly trying to pull on your heartstrings, and for me, it worked. It’s lovely and simple, and sometimes that’s the best kind of film. A shorter run time could have made the film a bit tighter, yet I never felt bored. I find it very difficult for a film to keep my interest for the whole duration, but We Bought a Zoo did that.

8/10

Trailer Alert: True Grit (Teaser)

The first teaser trailer for the Coen Brothers’ True Grit has been released. You can watch it over at Apple.

To me, this is how you make a trailer. It’s the perfect tease. It sets up the story, introduces all of the main characters, and gives us some striking images. I also love the accompanying music.

The only actor who we get to see much of is leading lady Hailee Steinfeld, who looks like she has more than enough spunk for the role. The glimpses of Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin (who apparently must always be disfigured on camera now) look promising, but I have to say that Matt Damon seems slightly out of place in the Coens’ world (side note: I was also momentarily thrown off by his tag as “Academy Award Winner Matt Damon”).

Visually, it looks amazing, and very No Country For Old Men-esque. 2007 was an amazing year for Westerns (No Country for Old Men, 3:10 to Yuma, The Assassination of Jesse James, and There Will Be Blood, if you could call it that), so it’s great to see the trend continuing. Love the trailer, way more excited for the movie now.

Trailer Round-Up: May 15, 2010

Charlie St. Cloud

I feel like an idiot for being excited for this movie, but I kind of am. Call it Zac Efron fangirl-ism if you want, but I think that Efron’s a surprisingly decent actor. Considering how fun he was in 17 Again, it’ll be interesting to see how he handles a fully dramatic role. By the looks of the trailer, Charlie St. Cloud seems a bit overly sappy, but Efron’s acting isn’t bad, from what I can tell, and it might be a good transition for him into weightier roles. It’s always a good sign when I’m more excited to see a movie after seeing the trailer, and even though it looks rather clichéd, I’m still interested.

Easy A

I loved Emma Stone in films like Superbad, The Rocker, and Zombieland, so it’s great to see her getting her own movie. Easy A looks surprisingly good for a teen comedy, and with Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, and Thomas Hayden Church in the supporting cast, I’m pretty much sold on this Scarlett Letter-inspired comedy.

Inception (trailer #3)

We’re finally kinda sorta getting some plot information, and it’s great to see all of the major players in the cast pop up in the third trailer for Christopher Nolan’s highly-anticipated Inception. I’m trying not to build it up to much in my mind, because it’ll be hard for it live up to my expectations, but this trailer is pretty awesome.

The Adjustment Bureau

What starts off as a rote romance film soon adds an interesting twist to the political thriller genre in this trailer for the latest Matt Damon vehicle. Damon and Emily Blunt are great, and The Adjustment Bureau looks like a big, fun film. Glad to see both of these actors making a film like this.

You Again

Kristen Bell is a charming actress, and Betty White, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Sigourney Weaver are always a lot of fun when they pop up in goofy supporting roles. However, this trailer is too manic and clichéd to make me want to see the movie.

Buried

This teaser trailer for Buried barely shows us anything, but it looks like a refreshingly different role for Ryan Reynolds. Definitely intriguing, but I’d like to see more.

Super 8

Again, this shows us barely anything. The train crash on its own isn’t that interesting, but if it’s a J.J. Abrams film (presumably) about aliens, I’m on board.