Cameron Crowe reunites with “Famous” friend for “Zoo”

By Sean O’Connell Cameron Crowe’s last great movie, “Almost Famous,” came out nearly 11 years ago. Since then, he delivered a surreal psychological thriller (“Vanilla Sky”) and a personal romantic project (“Elizabethtown”), but both left most people cold.

Yet Crowe remains one of those filmmakers fans want to see succeed, because he has demonstrated such storytelling potential, and we track his moves hoping he’ll return to the inspirational realms of “Jerry Maguire” or “Say Anything.” So it’s encouraging to hear that Crowe plans to reunite with his “Famous” lead as he continues to cast his next project.

That would be Patrick Fugit, who reportedly has joined the already impressive ensemble for Crowe’s adaptation of Benjamin Mee’s memoir, “We Bought a Zoo.” The film stars Matt Damon as a man who cashes in his life savings to purchase a rundown British zoo. Colin Ford has been cast as Damon’s son. Thomas Hayden Church will play Damon’s brother. Scarlett Johansson is negotiating to join the drama, and THR says Fugit is on board. His role, however, is being kept secret.

The premise sounds intriguing, especially once you learn that Mee had to care for his wife, who was suffering from brain cancer, as he readied his new zoo for opening. But I am a little disappointed that Crowe is working from someone else’s material and not penning his own screenplay. Usually there is so much of Crowe’s heart and soul in his characters’ dialogue. Perhaps the rejection of “Elizabethtown” burned Crowe more than we thought?

Or maybe he just saw something in Mee’s memoir that demanded he get involved. We’ll know more next year when “We Bought a Zoo” opens in theaters.

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