To be underwhelmed by a Cameron Crowe movie feels awful. He’s a filmmaker with such an open heart, a defenseless master of the soulful ache, and it kills me to admit that I was rarely moved by “We Bought a Zoo,” painfully aware of its well-oiled mechanical parts. It’s a sweet picture, but rarely genuine, working through a formulaic journey of enlightenment and grief in a manner that recalls a particularly flaccid Disney production. Crowe tries valiantly to find crevices of authentic woe, but a few searing moments of honest pain are steamrolled by a feature that wants to be loved in a big bad way. It’s troubling to watch the desperation unfold.
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