We Bought a Zoo opens with the voice of Dylan Mee (Colin Ford) narrating glimpses of his journalist father Benjamin's (Matt Damon) worldly adventures. Ben's been embedded with violent dictators covered with killer bees and flown through the eye of a hurricane but as Dylan explicitly states "nothing prepared him for this one"—the "this one" being the titular purchasing of a zoo on the brink of closure. Director Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire Almost Famous) has never been one for subtly but that's never been the goal. We Bought a Zoo drops the cynicism wears its heart on its sleeve and doesn't mind laying it on thick in an effort to move you which it does—whether you like it or not.
Six months after his wife's death Ben still doesn't have a grasp on how to be a good parent. He struggles to throw together bagged lunches for his daughter Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) watches Dylan downward spiral into school expulsion reluctantly accepts lasagnas from the sympathetic family friends and grieves over iPhoto montages of a life that once was. Every corner of his home conjures up familial memories prompting Ben to hightail it out of town. After a desperate house hunt Ben sets his sights on a stunning country home that comes with one twist: it's the home to lions and tiger and bears (oh my!).
Along with its diverse collection of fauna Ben's new zoo sports a colorful cast of staff members including Peter MacCready the temperamental Scottish maintenance man Robin the laid-back handyman with a monkey on his shoulder and Kelly the young committed animal handler (Scarlett Johansson). Ben inspires his team with motivational speeches (and signed checks) and together they work to rebuild and reopen the park.
We Bought a Zoo explores its themes of loss and renewal on the surface with cartoony characters hammy dialogue and a score by Jónsi of Sigur Rós that steers you towards an emotional destination. But it all works thanks in large part to Matt Damon's charm and a general air of niceness to the whole package. Damon is one of the few stars capable of playing a Regular Joe. Watching him have his butt kicked by zoo chores is delightful while he adds true gravity to the dramatic moments. Whether he's butting heads with his morose son in a screaming match or tearing up over his inescapable past Damon digs deeper than Crowe and Aline Brosh McKenna's (The Devil Wears Prada 27 Dresses) screenplay. The rest of the cast manages to elevate the material too—Johansson keeps herself down to Earth; Thomas Haden Church as Ben's skeptical brother Duncan knocks every joke out of the park; And the young Elle Fanning inspires once again as Kelly's bubbly tween cousin who falls for the disgruntled Dylan (although no one seems to have a problem with a 12-year-old spending her days working/living at a zoo; her parents are completely out of the picture).
The movie doesn't take unexpected turns or make profound statements but it succeeds in its goal of tugging the audience's heartstrings. The world of We Bought a Zoo is one where everything works out if you persevere have hope and open yourself up to love. That's not reality but rather inspirational thinking. Perfect for the holiday season.
The premise of Drive Angry has Nicolas Cage as a man who takes a road trip to punish the guys who are responsible for killing his daughter and kidnapping his granddaughter. But from the looks of the trailer, there’s not much actual driving! There’s much more footage of Cage crashing into inanimate objects and teaching the meaning of life to some random blond chick than there is of him getting himself from one place to another. The few moments we do get of Cage driving involve some serious explosions, which is probably meant to convey to us that even though he never raises his voice (at least in the trailer) to a level that’s louder than anything Lionel Richie has ever said in his entire life, HE’S FUCKING ANGRY. But there have certainly been angrier people behind the wheel, and here are a few of the more serious vehicular assailants we thought Cage could learn a thing or two about “driving angry” from.
Michelle’s driving became problematic in late 2003, when she was charged with eight misdemeanor counts from two separate occasions in Los Angeles. She pled no contest to the charges of drunk driving, hit and run, and driving without a license. She went to jail for 48 hours and was put on probation for three years. While shooting Lost in 2005, she was fined for speeding several times and then arrested again on December 1st for driving under the influence. She went to jail for five days but since the incident was considered a violation of her parole, her jail sentence was augmented to 60 days. Many believe her reckless behavior in Hawaii led to her character on Lost getting killed off.
Charlie Sheen Charlie Sheen’s past may not be punctuated by trouble behind the wheel, but that’s only because he makes $1.8 million per Two and a Half Men episode so he doesn’t have to drive himself anywhere. But if his instances of enjoying the company of $30,000 hookers, shooting Kelly Preston in the arm when he was engaged to her and locking up escorts in the closet because he believed they’d stolen his watch are indications of anything, it’s that he’s probably not a big yielder.
Though Shia didn’t cause the automobile accident that crushed his hand, the alcohol on his breath doesn’t completely free him from liability. In July of 2008, Shia’s Ford F-150 was hit by another car as it ran a red light at the intersection of La Brea Avenue and Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles. Shia was gripping the windowsill with his left hand while he was driving so when the other car drove over it, it was immediately crushed. Once officers got to the scene they smelled alcohol on Shia’s breath, and when asked if he would submit to a breathalyzer, he declined. He was arrested for misdemeanor drunk driving and his license was suspended for one year. Two days after the accident, the Sheriff’s Department announced that Shia was not at fault. He underwent several surgeries to repair his left hand, but still hasn’t regained complete mobility of it.
A list of the celebrities who drive poorly wouldn’t meet anyone’s standards if it glazed over the monstrosity that is Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay’s automotive troubles started innocently in 2004, when paparazzi started following her car and she suffered minor injuries when their car crashed into hers. On May 26th, 2007, Beverly Hills police arrested Lindsay for driving under the influence when she lost control of her Mercedes and mounted the curb. Police also found a “usable” amount of cocaine in her car. She was charged with a misdemeanor and entered rehab, where she stayed for 45 days. Upon release, she wore a SCRAM bracelet around her ankle to make sure she stayed sober. On July 24th, she was arrested again in Santa Monica for refusing a breathalyzer and, after being taken to the police station, for driving with a blood alcohol content level that was over the legal limit. Additionally, a small amount of cocaine was found in her pocket, and so she was charged with felony cocaine possession, driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. She had to do community service and was placed on three years probation. In August of 2007, she returned to rehab, where she stayed until October. In the coming years, she’d be in and out of rehab when she wasn’t hitting strollers with her Ferrari, violating her parole, or completely unconscious in the passenger’s seat.
Nicole Richie started having issues with driving in February of 2003, when she was arrested in Malibu, California for driving with a suspended license and for heroin possession. Things remained quiet up until December of 2006, when Richie was seen driving her black Mercedes onto an exit ramp on State Route 134 in Burbank and traveling down the highway in the wrong direction. She was pulled over by highway patrol and arrested after she failed a field sobriety test. After admitting that she had smoked some marijuana and taken a few Vicodin tablets before getting into her car, she was charged with driving under the influence and in July of 2007, was sentenced to four days in jail but only spent 82 minutes behind bars because of how overcrowded the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood, California was at the time. She was placed on probation, but after she missed one of her alcohol education classes, the term was extended to another year and set to expire in 2011. However, at a hearing in December of 2010, Richie's probation was terminated early because she had complied with all of its requirements.
In January of 2010, as she was leaving The London West Hollywood Hotel, January crashed her Range Rover into three parked cars. But instead of staying at the scene and making sure everything was in order, she gave her license to a bystander and went home. She came back a few minutes later in a different set of clothes, and claimed to have called 911 when she was in her house. January told the police that she crashed because paparazzi were following her. It was later learned that (after the accident but before she got out of her car and went back to her house) she called Food Network star Bobby Flay, who she'd met earlier at the hotel, who told her to leave the scene of the accident. When TMZ spoke with him, he said that he only drove to where January had crashed because he just wanted to make sure she was okay and had no idea why January would call him for help, and that he especially did not encourage her to get out of her car and go home. Witnesses said they heard January ask if she was going to have to submit to a field sobriety test, but an officer told her it was pointless because there was no way to prove whether or not she was under the influence when she was in the car, since she could have gone home and had a drink.
Gibson cites 13 as the age when he began drinking, and it has certainly affected his conduct and his driving over the years. His abuse became most apparent in the summer of 2006 when he was arrested on the Pacific Coast Highway for driving under the influence and for speeding with an open container of alcohol in the car with him. When Officer James Mee questioned him, Gibson said “Fucking Jews…the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Additionally, he repeatedly said, “my life is fucked.” Once inside Mee’s police car, Gibson began banging his head against the seat and told Mee that “he owned Malibu” and that he would “spend all his money to “get even.” While that alone is sufficient proof of Gibson’s aggression, it’s only reinforced when one listens to the numerous tapes Oksana Grigorieva recorded of Gibson verbally abusing her, and so it’s pretty clear that his charm isn’t just hiding somewhere.
Unlike others on this list, Halle Berry doesn’t drink and drive. However, her involvement in a hit and run indicates that she does, in fact, have some road rage. On February 23rd, 2000, Berry ran a red light and collided with another vehicle that resulted in its driver becoming permanently disabled. After the impact Berry sped off in her car, even though she suffered a concussion and sustained a gash in her head that required anywhere between 17 to 20 stitches (reports vary). The Los Angeles District Attorney could have charged her with a felony, which if convicted, would have landed her a three year stint in jail but instead, Berry was only charged with a misdemeanor. She pled no contest in court and was sentenced to three years probation, 200 hours of community service, and a $13,500 fine. Berry now considers it the ordeal that “changed her life.”
The most dangerous driver on this list just happens to be a former First Lady! In November of 1963, Ms. Laura Bush (then Laura Welch was driving east on Farm Forad 868 with her friend to a party in Midland, Texas. The girls were chatting about clothes and Laura ran a stop sign that resulted in her crashing into Mike Douglas, who was in his car heading South on State Road 369. Douglas was thrown from his car, broke his neck, and died instantly. Even though Laura was not criminally charged for his death, she wrote in her book, Spoken from the Heart, that the accident was the reason why she lost her faith “for many, many years.”