OK for kids 12+
Family film tackles grief with humor and deep empathy.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that director Cameron Crowe's drama inspired by real-life events revolves around a family dealing with the loss of a beloved mother. As such, some moments of reminiscing and discussion about her death may be too sad/intense for younger kids. There's also quite a bit of swearing for a PG-rated movie (including "s--t"), some social drinking and flirting, creepy images (in drawings by an unhappy teenage boy), and the implication that the Easter Bunny isn't real. Nevertheless, We Bought a Zoo (which stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson) is a heartfelt and inspiring film about how a family pulls through difficulty and how being with animals -- and those who care for them -- can help heal the soul.
- Families can talk about We Bought a Zoo's messages. What is it saying about loss? About family? Are the characters realistic and relatable? How do you think you'd cope in similar circumstances?
- Parents, talk to your kids about loss and how it can impact a person in many ways. Are there many different ways to grieve? Why?
The good stuff
Messages: The film is chock full of positivity. Mee and his team at the zoo all work together for a common good. Open communication, empathy, and effort make the new venture work and help heal the family.
Role models: Mee is genuinely interested in giving his kids a new adventure so that they, and he, can find joy again after his wife's death. He makes mistakes, but through it all, he keeps the lines of communication open with his kids, especially his 14-year-old, who starts out as rebellious and surly (he steals, kicks snakes, yells and swears at his dad, etc. -- i.e. not someone to emulate) but improves. Even Mee's brother, who doesn't always see things his way, winds up supportive. Kelly is a strong woman who's confident about her zookeeping skills and has genuine affinity for the animals.
What to watch for
Violence: Some moments may seem dangerous, especially to young viewers. Some of the teenage son's dark, violent drawings are shown; including one of a decapitated head with blood squiring from the neck. The son also kicks a snake as if it were a soccer ball. Some threats ("I'm going to kill him" and someone saying they'd feed their in-laws to tigers -- said as a joke) and a humorous reference to using a tranquilizer gun on a human. In addition to the tranq guns, one apparently real gun is seen.
Sex: Some flirtation between two teens and two adults; a kiss. Also some mild innuendo related to both humans and animals. A maternity portrait shows a woman topless -- nothing sensitive is shown, and it's not sexual, but her shirt is off.
Language: Language includes "s--t," "damn," "a--hole," "d--k," "hell," "oh my God" (as an exclamation), and more. Some of the swearing is done by kids.
Consumerism: Labels/brands seen include Apple, Stella Artois, Budweiser, Rolling Rock, GMC, Ford, Subway, Paxil, Target, and Home Depot.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: A few scenes of social drinking among adults and references to drinking; many photos of the passed-away wife include drinks. Mentions of animals' medications and a joke about how a tiger will get a "major buzz" from them.
Fan Reviews provided by
!*Caution with small children NOT PG SHOULD BE PG13*! by Leesotis
They do state "Language and some thematic elements" but I dont think most people are excepting the amount of it it's alot. They say " bull_ _ _ _ and sh_ _ numerous times and the little girl says you are a d_ck. The son Dylan draws some graphic pictures of decapatation. We have watched a lot of PG movies with my son never one with this much swearing. It was embrassing when my 10 year old said they swear to much it makes me uncomfortable. And the story line is not good for children it's realtionship oriented with long periods of dilogue. I mean Ice Age and Over The Hedge are both rated PG so I think they missed the mark rating this movie PG. Just wanted to let you know that it's not just a friendly little movie about a zoo it's a lot more then that. It's a fine movie if it was rated proper as PG13!
We Bought a Zoo by we5pelicans
Very enjoyable for me and my 7 yr. old grandson. No tears only smiles and laughter........
WoW but not for little kids by jbromley
My kids and I loved this movie. Very cute and honest but they mention the Easter bunny is not real, just so you know. Lucky my kids already knew. The rest of the movie was full of emotion and passion which made for a great movie for your 9 and older crowd.
It struck a chord by timbalionguy
This movie struck a real chord with me, as it describes something I have more or less personally experienced. I have been fascinated by lions and other big cats all my life. About ten years ago, I got a chance to buy a property that was right next to a zoo, and shortly thereafter, began experiencing the zoo life. This movie does a very good job of telling what it is like to work around truly amazing animals. It is really hard work, and most of it is done with a rake, shovel and wheelbarrow. There are moments both pure joy and deep agony. This movie also deals with perhaps the biggest challenge of working at a zoo-- dealing with the two-legged 'animals', and all their various personality types. I was very pleased to see that this movie did a pretty accurate (with little of the usual Hollywood hyperbole) job of depicting the entire range of experiences one gets when they decide to devote a significant part of their lives to working with animals. Go see it-- you won't be disappointed!
We Bought a Zoo by Applekween
A must see! Took the family and everyone enjoyed it, teens and adults. We left the theater laughing and quoting the characters. Very fun movie, well worth the price of admission. The animals steal the show at times. The cast was great!
We Bought a Zoo by abrahamh
The movie was very emotional, moving & funny. The animals were amazing & so was the cast.
I would urge everyone to see the movie. I would rate this movie with the highest rating.
Not appropriate for all children by criztina
After reading the reviews for this movie I would have thought it would be kid friendly for all children. It was very questionable for mine. The language alone was not acceptable. The word ****, was used very boldly. I also didn't like the constant drinking (and drunkness). The part when one character said to conquer HER...basically go have sex now is what he was saying was not good either. It seemed very adult oriented and the adult humor was more bold than I would have expected in a children's film.
I really loved the concept and story and it was a cute film. I was just very disappointed in those reviewing that they obviously thought the language was normal.
What a Great Movie by Jeff_Howard
Our Family loved it!! It had it all comedy, drama, sadness, romance, and DREAMS. Two scenes that aren't good for small children but overall GOOD to GO.
Very Good by keauxalla
My husband and I both enjoyed the movie. Parents need to be aware that there are a few inappropriate and unnecessary words used in the movie.
"Zoo" is a great entertainment for families by Delia234
This is a great family movie! We went to see it on Christmas Day as a compromise ? I wanted to see Sherlock Holmes II, and my 14-year-old daughter wanted to see the Muppets movie. So neither one of us was dying to see "We Bought a Zoo." We both came away really loving this movie, though, and I would recommend it for families with older children ? and for adults who don't mind an irony-free story. The combination of animals and characters you can really care about makes it perfect for those children moving from animated kids' movies to more serious themes. Matt Damon pulls out the stops for his performance, and I thought Scarlett Johansson got her zookeeper character just right.