22 December 2011 7:10 AM, PST | Movieline | See recent Movieline news »

Cameron Crowe can be a big old cheeseball, but he's never been a filmmaker to come across as cynical or calculatedly manipulative. That's one of the reasons We Bought a Zoo doesn't leave your heartstrings feeling brutally manhandled, despite being a treacly tale about how a widower in search of a fresh start buys and moves to a struggling animal park with his two beautiful, sad children. The other reason is Matt Damon, who underplays the role of still-grieving dad Benjamin Mee as much as possible and brings an edge of genuine frustration to his relationship with his teenage son Dylan (Colin Ford). Though overall the film's still as honey-toned as the golden sunshine that slants through most of its scenes, the occasional glimpse of a rough human edge means this isn't just an exercise in mawkishness, though it's also nowhere near as emotionally resonant as it strives to be. »

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Matt Damon
Cameron Crowe (I)
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