Friday, May 25, 2012

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage.

Full disclosure: Jerry Maguire is one of my favorite movies of all time. That might give my credibility a shot in the junk for some of you more cynical types, but as a senior in high school at the time, the movie captivated me. Renee Zellweger's character, Dorothy, tells Jerry, I just want to be inspired. As a seventeen year old, I couldn't have agreed more. Sure, there's dozens of other scenes and characters (the Rod Tidwell) I can ramble on about for hours, but that's about as succinctly as I could put it. Why mention this? Well, this past Tuesday my wife and I completed another Cameron Crowe film, We Bought a Zoo. Or as my wife put it, Jerry Maguire with Animals.

That's not a knock, at least it isn't for me. We Bought a Zoo was a very enjoyable movie, but not quite the family flick it was packaged as (the Blu ray had an Ice Age short in front of it?). It's innocent and downright whimsical at times, and of course the animal footage has a lot of awwwww shots, but there's some serious stuff going on here. At times, I was kind of a wreck. Okay, I just had something in my eye. Well, both of my eyes. Fine, I cried. A lot.

So what brought the waterworks? Well, turns out I don't really enjoy watching a dad deal with his family after he has lost his wife to a sudden illness. Yeah, the Dead Mommy genre isn't my cup of tea. Repeatedly, I imagined myself trying to keep my own family together after the loss of my wife, and it destroyed me. Now, I'm not as dreamy as Matt Damon and my son is much younger than his pair, but that didn't make it any easier to swallow. And to think I got suckered in with frickin' Scrat. I haven't been this devastated in a family film since Marley & Me. Whoever suggested that was a family movie needs to beaten to death with a dead dog. F--ker.

Anyway, I would like to make it clear that I did really enjoy the movie. It's harmless, and at times, very goofy, but I think I'm just a sucker for Crowe. I love his characters. Sure, they're overly cute and quirky, but at the core they're also very good people. Honest people who legitimately risk everything for their families and what they believe in. And to me, that's inspiring. Also, his movies are always full of hope.

An English teacher in college once told me that hope was for the weak, that real people didn't hope, they took action. That guy was a real dick. I hope someone took action and punched him in the balls. On that note, let's break this one down with some Yays, some Boos, and some Jerry's! And let's do it I-am-a-golden-God style...

Do you know that bees and dogs can smell fear?
  •  Realtor Guy! J.B Smoove steals his scene. Steals. It.
  • I need more Patrick Fugit in my life. The entire zoo crew was pretty solid.
  • I love how his son hated the zoo, til he saw Elle Fanning. It's funny how much a pretty face makes everything better. Think about how many times in your life that's happened to you. Is this a guy thing?
  • The soundtrack! Many of Crowe's staples lend a tune. Petty? Check. Dylan. Of course. And a little Temple of the Dog, too.
  • And, Matt Damon. It's weird seeing him be The Dad, but I like it. It's like Contagion, just replace the end-of-the-world-virus-thing with a sick tiger and a brooding kid.
The f--king zoo's closed, Ray.
  • Okay, the daughter is exceedingly cute, but it bothers me when little kids say the exact perfect thing all the time. My son just says birdpoop over and over.
  • The zoo inspector? Sorry little girl, but this guy really is a dick. I was hoping a lion would tear his face off, but shockingly, no dice.
  • I love happy endings (both), but the let's climb over the tree stuff actually infuriated me.
Check out what pure joy looks like.
 The Jerry's!
(aka Cut & Pasted from the Jerry Maguire script)
  • Protective older sibling of the same gender.
  • Uber-cute kid with deceased parent.
  • Handsome older male boss inadvertently courts hot, younger female worker. Kids are involved, too.
  • Guy Who Had It All struggles with Not Having It Anymore.
  • Powerful speech directed to an animal (replace fish with tiger)
  • Pretty much gives the who's coming with me? speech. Also known as the please believe in me speech.
  • And no one else in the world would catch this, but utensil tapping. I only know this because I do this with my son at every meal. And I too, stole that from Jerry.
Goodness. It's late. I gotta go to bed. Don't worry, I'm not gonna do what you all think I'm gonna do, which is, you know, flip out...


  1. I haven't seen this one yet, I don't like Matt Damon especially after seeing him wonder aimlessly through entire Contagion but I adore Crowe's movies so I may see it some day.

  2. I liked stumbling Damon! I enjoy his Overwhelmed Regular Guy. If you're an ardent Crowe fan, I say go for it. Otherwise, proceed with caution.

  3. Very cheesy and schmaltzy at times, but still seemed like it's heart was in the right place and also provided plenty of moments where I could feel something for these characters. Also, great to see Crowe back doing a good movie and hopefully he stays. Hopefully. Nice review M.