A mere six years after the justifiably career-killing Elizabethtown (which inspired Nathan Rabin’s My Year of Flops series), Cameron Crowe is back this December with We Bought a Zoo. The forthcoming film stars Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Elle Fanning, Thomas Haden Church and Almost Famous veteran Patrick Fugit. The snyopsis, according to iMDB: Set in Southern California, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.
The movie’s based on a 2008 memoir by Benjamin Mee. From Booklist’s review of said memoir: “During the first week, a jaguar escaped, and the author and his brother began to realize what they’d gotten themselves into. Through eradicating the plague of rats, clearing out years of rubbish to reveal usable buildings, and battling with banks for operating expenses, the author and his staff gradually pulled the zoo back from the brink of closure.” And from Publishers Weekly: “Between his wife Katherine’s diagnosis of glioblastoma and her quiet death less than three years later, Mee, his siblings and his mother bought a bedraggled zoo, complete with decaying buildings, a ragtag group of animals, an eclectic staff and a reputation that had been quickly going to the wolves.”
For we Croweheads who have endured this six years with patience and serenity, a beautiful reward is finally at hand. We here at Pop Culture Has AIDS have gotten our hands on an advance cut of the film, and here are a few scenes we’re really looking forward to…
0:07 – Matt Damon’s family really doesn’t want to move to the countryside and open a failing zoo, but Damon knows it’s the right thing to do. He changes their minds after staying up all night and producing a feverishly written manifesto that he drops off on each of their beds. He’s his father’s son again.
0:25 – Thomas Haden Church gets into an argument with Damon about what job he should have at the zoo. Church goes on a tirade: “I don’t want to clean anything, train anything, or nurse anything as a career. I don’t want to clean anything trained or nursed, or train anything cleaned or nursed, or nurse anything cleaned, trained, or nursed, or irrigate anything cleaned, trained, or nursed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”
0:41 – It’s definitely a trailer-worthy moment when Damon and Gisella the chimp have this exchange:
Gisella (signing): Did you know that I know 480 words?
Damon: Did you know that I had to slaughter 1,700 rats today?
Gisella (signing): Did you know that I like bananas?
Damon: Did you know that my wife has glioblastoma?
Gisella: (points at her herself, then her heart, then Damon)
Damon: I… I can’t compete with that!
0:53 – When Haden Church and Elle Fanning make love for the first time in the back of the Zoomobile, Church is shaking so sweetly that it almost breaks Fanning’s heart.
0:56 – Fanning to Church: “Are my breasts too small for you?”
1:08 – It’s an odd, confused callback when Patrick Fugit stands across from the monkey cage in a trenchcoat, boombox held aloft, trying to win back the love of the chimp who’s been ignoring him for weeks, to the strains of “Shock the Monkey.”
1:14 – As the family drives through the countryside in the Zoomobile, searching for the missing jaguar, Damon attempts to lift their spirits with a singalong of “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain & Tenille. It fails when the jaguar attacks the van and claws Fanning through the roof.
1:32 – A beautiful, quiet moment, after the zoo has closed for the day. Johansson finds herself alone in the dimly lit birdhouse, sliding around and spinning on some bat guano stuck to her shoe, while Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” plays on the soundtrack.
1:47 – Damon is awoken in a cold sweat by a team of doctors in the year 2027. He is told that he has been in a coma for more than 15 years, and that the zoo was just a coma-dream he fashioned from the many beloved zoo movies he had seen as a kid. Films like uh…uh…(ed. note: do NOT google “zoo movies.”)
Good luck, Cameron!