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We Bought a Zoo (2011)

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Set in Southern California, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
2,149 ( 228)
1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter MacCready (as Angus MacFadyen)
Mr. Stevens (as JB Smoove)


Benjamin has lost his wife. In a bid to start his life over, he purchases a large house that has a zoo. This is welcome news for his daughter, but his son is not happy about it. The zoo is need of renovation and Benjamin sets about the work with the head keeper, Kelly, and the rest of the zoo staff. But, the zoo soon runs into financial trouble. The staff must get the zoo back to its former glory, pass a zoo inspection, and get it back open to the public. Written by Kad

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Family

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 December 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Un zoológico en casa  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,450,000 (USA) (23 December 2011)


$75,621,915 (USA) (11 May 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Matt Damon's character climbs over the tree the real Benjamin Mee, Milo Mee (Dylan in the movie) and Ella Mee (Rosie in the movie) can be seen as the first family in line. In the scene, Benjamin Mee is wearing what appears to be a Dartmoor Zoological Park cap, which is the actual zoo in England on which the movie is based. See more »


Benjamin makes a joking reference to the 'Chilean Miners' when Rosie is hidden under stuffed animals. The mine collapse happened on August 5, 2010, well after this scene takes place. See more »


[first lines]
Dylan Mee: My dad is a writer who specialized in adventure.
Benjamin Mee: This is Benjamin Mee. I am surrounded by hundreds, probably thousands of killer bees. If I wasn't wearing this suit, I would be dead in an instant.
Dylan Mee: He interviewed dangerous dictators.
Hugo Chavez: Take this message to that American cowboy. We already gave a 10 billion dollar oil credit to China. Swallow that, Mr. Danger!
Benjamin Mee: What's your favorite movie?
Hugo Chavez: Toy Story.
[to his staff]
Hugo Chavez: The first one or the second one?
Segundo: The second.
See more »


Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #20.50 (2011) See more »


Hunger Strike
Written by Chris Cornell
Performed by Temple of the Dog
Courtesy of A&M Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Simple and Hopeful.
23 December 2011 | by (California) – See all my reviews

This film, starring Matt Damon, was unequivocally everything I had hoped it would be. Upon viewing the trailer while waiting to watch The Muppets, there were tears in my eyes and my heart skipped a beat as I remembered I wasn't watching the film itself, just the preview.

The film came out yesterday and to my luck, my mother invited me to go and see it with her this evening. I was thrilled to see that the music throughout the film was performed by a favorite Icelandic musician, Jónsi, with a perfect selection of "Holocene" from Bon Iver's new album. It was little details such as these that kept me appreciating the film from start to finish.

The plot may have been at times predictable but they were predictions you wanted to happen; conflict you wanted to be resolved and rain you wish would stop. Coming into the theater already a Matt Damon fan I was interested to see how he was going to fill the widowed father role. A few things a noticed; Matt does look older, he is still as handsome as ever, and he should stick with a shorter haircut. Aside from my personal opinion, I think anyone leaving the theater could agree he played the roll wonderfully.

The warmhearted character of adorable Maggie Elizabeth Jones, melted my heart every time she was on the screen. Her character, "Rosie" was the seven year old whose dreams came true; her Dad moved them to a zoo. My favorite scene is when the Realtor tells Matt Damon's character, "Benjamin" that the house they wanted to buy was also a zoo. As Benjamin stood there dumbfounded, Rosie Jumped up and down as any seven year old would shouting "Yay!". Seriously, the cutest thing ever.

If the cast didn't win you over the animals did. Tigers, lions, bears, snakes, monkeys, owls, otters, peacocks, etc. The list goes on and on. Each personality portrayed in a relatable way as if you were on the team helping run the zoo itself.

If you and your family are wanting to go see a movie this holiday season, go and see We Bought A Zoo. It is the perfect film to tug at your heart strings, leave you with tears in your eyes, and hope in your heart.

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