There are people who want Cameron Crowe to do a sequel to 'Say Anything', because they want to see what Lloyd Dobbler (John Cusack) is up to twenty-something years later. But the thing is, you can see a little bit of him in Benjamin Mee. You can see a bit of Penny Lane and Jerry Maguire in him too. Of course, what you're really seeing in all of these characters, is Cameron Crowe himself.
Not everyone loves Crowe's movies, but that's life. The best you can do as an artist is be authentic. When you're truthful and real, there'll still be people that hate you; but there'll be people who absolutely and completely love you, too. 'Say Anything', 'Jerry Maguire' and 'Almost Famous' are among my favourite films of all time. To me, they're masterpieces.
What is it that I love about this guy's movies? It's simple: they make me feel alive. They remind me of the simple joys of life. You feel it when William Miller is contemplating going to Morrocco for a year, and you feel it when Jerry Maguire is shoplifting the pootie. And you feel it in 'We Bought A Zoo' when Benjamin (Matt Damon) and Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson) are exchanging glances. In fact, there's a beautiful moment when Damon's character is simply telling Kelly to "go home", because she's been working too hard. The text of the scene isn't romantic, but the scene is positively ALIVE! Makes you want to run out into the streets and find someone adorable just so you can make a connection happen. Life is about the connections, it's about feeling those subtle flows and big booms in your heart, but we forget this; we go years without it. Cameron Crowe reminds us of who we are, and how we felt once.
There was a time when I thought Cameron Crowe was only capable of masterpieces. Turns out, it's not true -- he is human after all. The truth is, 'Elizabethtown' was uneven and strange and didn't always ring true. But then again, some bits of it were magical and transcendent. That's the thing about Crowe - he stays true to who he is. As he seques into family-comedy with 'We Bought A Zoo' you could be forgiven for thinking he's sold out, or been downgraded from auteur to studio-fluff-director. But that's not what this is.
So what IS IT?
It's a little piece of magic, is what it is. It currently sits at 7.3 on IMDB. And that's probably fair. It's not a masterpiece--- but what it does have, is a beating heart. Like I said before, his work makes you feel alive. The nuanced characters and the joyful little life moments--- NO-ONE does them like Crowe. Just seeing a clip of a Cameron Crowe character waving goodbye to someone can sometimes send me spiralling upwards into full joy that lasts for days. If you wonder what I mean by a Cameron Crowe character waving, watch the trailer from 0.38-0.43 -- it's those moments, they kill me, in the best possible way. I can't even explain it, it's just one element of the many many tiny little elements that make Cameron Crowe movies fantastic.
'We Bought A Zoo' is sweet, heartwarming and life-affirming. It's a family-comedy that doesn't try to be anything more or anything less than what it is. Cameron Crowe has a distinct artistic voice, and this film is a worthy addition to his body of work which has had a huge hand in shaping my artistic sensibilities as a writer and director. For Cameron Crowe, 'We Bought A Zoo' proves, It's all happening, still.
I saw this film back in December in America. Like Benjamin Mee, I too have lost my spouse and I have to say, I was astonished by the honesty of this film. I don't want to spoil it for other readers but I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't have an overly 'Hollywood' type ending. The pain behind Benjamin's eyes was portrayed so accurately by Matt Damon. His performance deserves praise. And one phrase in the script struck such a chord with me, it was so perfect that I ended up using it for a long time to explain to others how I was feeling. In the beginning, the little girl can't sleep at night because there's a loud party going on next door and she says to her dad 'their happy is too loud'. That is the power a screenwriter can have. When you get it right, it only takes a few simple words.ReplyDelete