Become a Premium Member | Only $2 a month

► You're making sure we survive
► Exclusive previews
► No more ads


We Bought a Zoo [2011] [PG] - 2.3.4



Although our site is very popular, the current economic climate has reduced our revenues just when we need extra security to prevent attacks from hackers who don't like what we do. If you think what we do is worthwhile, please donate or become a member.


Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

 [more »]

Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


» Official Site
» IMDb Listing

Inspired by the true story of a recently widowed father (Matt Damon), who moves his family to the countryside after he buys a zoo and begins the process of renovating both the zoo and his family life. Also with Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Elle Fanning and Angus Macfadyen. Directed by Cameron Crowe. [2:04]

SEX/NUDITY 2 - A man and a woman kiss and share a lingering kiss moments later. A man and a woman hold hands. We see a man and a woman on the ground with the man's arms around the woman. A man and a woman hug. A woman tackles a man and hugs him. A boy and girl hug.
 We see an artistic photograph of a woman, shirtless, and she is pregnant and covering her bare breasts with her arms. We see a man looking at photographs of him and a woman about to kiss. We see a photograph of a man kissing a woman on the cheek.
 A man stares longingly at a woman and the woman appears very uncomfortable as she looks at the man watching her. A woman stares at a man longingly and the man ignores her advances.
 A woman tells a man that she would kiss him if she wanted to kiss him. A woman tells a man that she might kiss him again on New Year's Eve and the man tells the woman that he looks forward to it. A man jokes to a woman that she should use a man's attraction to her to get the man to pass a zoo's inspection. A man makes a crude joke about a woman who asked the man on a date.

VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - Several men and a woman holding tranquilizer guns run through woods looking for an escaped bear: a man finds the bear, the bear growls and smacks the gun from the man's hands when an unseen person shoots the bear with a tranquilizer dart and it falls to the ground.
 A small amount of dried blood is seen under a boy's nose; a girl asks the boy why his nose was bloody and he explains that he had slipped on a roof and hit his nose. A man explains to another man that the man's child is being kicked out of school; we see the man show the boy's father a painting of a decapitated body with blood spraying from the neck wound and the neck holding on by only a small flap of skin.
 A woman panics when the door to a lion's cage will not lock; we see a man standing inside the enclosure as the lion slowly approaches him, and the man escapes unharmed and locks the door as a woman shouts to distract the lion. We hear a lion roar, and it startles a man and his young daughter. A girl backs up when a lion roars behind a cage and the girl's father remarks that the lion is "scary."
 A man is startled when a bear walks in front of his car, hits the window of the car, roars and walks away. A porcupine chases a man, and the man jumps over a fence and lands on a pile of thorny branches; he yelps as another man helps pull a large thorny branch from his back.
 A man holds a bag (we do not see what is in the bag) and explains to his young daughter that the bag is filled with frozen rats that are fed to snakes. A woman instructs a man on how to hang up a carcass of meat and we see her tying a rope around a giant chunk of meat and throwing it into a freezer.
 A boy shouts as he opens a door to find a yard filled with snakes. A girl shouts when a snake wraps around her shoes and we see men and women helping put snakes into trashcans. A boy kicks a snake angrily and storms away, shouting. A man angrily kicks over a barrel and he picks it up moments later. A man accidentally steps on a dog's foot and the dog yelps.
 It is implied that an ailing elderly tiger is euthanized after we see it lying in its cage as a woman tells a man that the tiger must be put down; a man argues, saying he does not want to end the life of the tiger, and the woman shouts at the man, saying that the tiger is dying and in obvious pain. A man asks another man if he will authorize a tiger being euthanized and the man shouts that he does not want the tiger to be killed.
 A man tells a boy, "It doesn't hurt that bad" as we see a monkey repeatedly hit the man on the head with its paw. A man half-jokingly tells a slowly approaching lion not to eat him because he is, "filled with bitterness, impure thoughts and Scotch."
 On multiple occasions a man angrily threatens to kill another man. A man throws darts into pictures of another man's face as he shouts that he will cut off the man's head with a sword. A man shouts angrily and shoves himself against a door as two men on the other side of the door brace it while the man shouts angrily that he will "kill" another man; the man shoves through the door and runs after a truck as it speeds away. A man looks around for his young daughter in a panic, shouting at another man, "I keep her home from school for one day and she gets eaten"; the girl is found unharmed moments later.
 On multiple occasions we see a father and his son shout at one another: A man shouts at his son for being suspended from school for stealing money, the boy makes a joke and the man whisper-shouts at the boy again until interrupted by another man; a man and his son shout angrily at one another during a drawn-out argument when the father apologizes to the son for his mother dying (a girl is awakened by the shouting); a boy shouts at his father before storming away; and a man and his son get into an argument in front of a group of people and the boy storms away. A woman shouts at people, telling them that a man had deceived them and would be leaving them without jobs. A woman shouts at a man, telling him that a zoo and the occupants of the zoo will "be gone" if the man does not help fix the zoo. A man shouts at an ostrich that pecks at his shirt. A girl shouts as her father tries to do her hair. A man angrily shouts at another man, making vague threats against a political figure.
 A man tells another man that he is lucky because he had been staring down a dangerous 750 pound bear and he was moments away from being made into "chips and salsa" by the bear. A man in a beekeeper suit with swarms of killer bees surrounding him says, "I would be dead right now if it weren't for this suit." A woman tells a man that a bear had been medicated for depression; we hear the bear roar and pound its paw on the ground, and the woman adds that the bear could "rip off" a man's arm. A woman tells a man that as tigers attack, they feel the pulse of the victim with their teeth and will reposition, biting their prey in order to attack the jugular. A man tells another man that all of the animals in a zoo will have to be "put down" if the zoo is not purchased. A man tells another man to draw up an "end of life plan" for an elderly tiger and the man explains that the tiger had been treated for kidney disease and was doing better.
 A woman half-jokingly tells a man that she did not like how the man's son had kicked a snake. A man half-jokingly tells his son, "If Charles Manson needs a personal muralist, you're set." A man jokingly tells a woman to find a tranquilizer gun to use on his brother. A man proposes a story to another man, saying he will go with his children into the eye of a volcano and tell the story of an apocalypse from a child's prospective; the man turns down the story. A woman jokingly tells a girl that she will feed her in-laws to the tigers. Two men playfully shout at one another across an office space. A woman makes a snide joke about her marriage being like a cage.
 On multiple occasions we hear a boy and his younger sister discuss their recently deceased mother: A girl asks her father if her mother was in pain before she died, and the man tells his young daughter that her mother had said that her illness looked worse than it was; a boy tells his father that no one will give him a bad grade when his mother had just died six months earlier; a girl tells a man that her mother had died and the girl's father tells the girl not to tell strangers.
 We see multiple pictures drawn by a boy that include large creepy spiders, people clawing at their faces (in black and white), and a giant shouting mouth. A girl looks at a boy's drawings of a man shouting and tells the boy that they are "dark"; the boy responds saying, "There is no sun in the underworld."
 A man acts like he is going to throw a girl into the enclosure of a lion and the girl laughs and squeals. We see a man hit in the face with a spray of water and he shakes his head. On multiple occasions two brothers tease one another. A man and his son playfully shove one another as they walk. A man pantomimes using his hand as a gun and shooting himself in the head.
 We see dead fish in a cooler and a plateful of dead fish as a bear is about to eat. A boy acts disgusted when he opens a box filled with snakes and walks past a bin of crawling grubs.
 Two men pilot a helicopter; a man in the back is very excited when the helicopter shakes and a boy narrates that the man is riding into the eye of a hurricane.

PROFANITY 4 - 4 scatological terms, 1 not fully enunciated scatological term, 2 anatomical terms (including one used by a young girl), 4 mild obscenities (including one used by a 13 year old boy), name-calling (selfish, humiliating, Mr. Danger, American cowboy, fraud, random guy from the city, pathetic, tiny person, idiot, insane, hobos, Chilean miner, Dark Lord, sound like a lemur, little bit of a jerk, goofball), exclamations (sheep farts), 9 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - We see prescription drug bottles in a bathroom, on multiple occasions people discuss the use of prescription drugs by sick animals, a man frequently talks to a tiger about the tiger taking his prescription medication, a man tells another man that he had an "existential moment" when he saw a dwarf Mexican and an iguana (implying drugs, but the man is sober), and a man jokingly tells another man that he and his school do not "stand for everything" about Bob Marley (implying drugs). A man is seen turning an empty flask upside down and the man later tells another man that he has been drinking all night, we see men and women drinking beer, men and women hold beers and alcoholic beverages on multiple occasions at a restaurant, a man and his young daughter watch a house party and we see people holding alcoholic drinks, we see two photographs of a woman holding a glass of wine, a man jokes to another man that a restaurant is closed because the owner is "hung over," and a man half-jokingly tells a slowly approaching lion not to eat him because he is "filled with bitterness, impure thoughts and Scotch."

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Death of a parent/spouse, grief, coping, courage, dedication, challenging yourself, zoos, zoo animals, exotic animals.

MESSAGE - Overcoming grief can be difficult, but having a strong support system is very helpful.

(Note: There is an animated short preceding the feature that includes the following: A squirrel floating on a small chunk of ice scampers onto a small island where he finds the skeleton of a squirrel (we see the bones and sharp teeth leaning against a tree), a squirrel grips a boulder and jumps into the ocean with it causing him to sink to the bottom (we see the pressure compress the squirrel's body as he sinks deeper), and a harpoon-like weapon pierces a nut shell and pulls it and the squirrel holding the shell through the ocean, and then out of the ocean and onto a ship where he is surrounded by animal ruffians and is tied to the mast.

Special Keywords: S2 - V3 - P4 - MPAAPG

Our Ratings Explained

Tell Friends About Our Site

Become a Member

A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

INAPPROPRIATE ADS? We have little control over ads since we belong to ad agencies that serve ads automatically; a standing order should prevent provocative ads, but inappropriate ads do sneak in.
What you can do



Become a member: You can subscribe for as little as a couple of dollars a month and gain access to our premium site, which contains no ads whatsoever. Think about it: You'll be helping support our site and guarantee that we will continue to publish, and you will be able to browse without any commercial interruptions.


Tell all your friends: Please recommend to your friends and acquaintances; you'll be helping them by letting them know how useful our site is, while helping us by increasing our readership. Since we do not advertise, the best and most reliable way to spread the word is by word-of-mouth.


Alert local & national media: Let major media know why you trust our ratings. Call or e-mail a local newspaper, radio station or TV channel and encourage them to do a story about our site. Since we do not have a PR firm working for us, you can be our media ambassadors.

Copyright © 1992- Critics. All rights reserved. "Kids-In-Mind™" and "Movie Ratings That Actually Work™" are Service Marks of Critics. For legal queries please see our Terms of Use; for comments or questions see our contact page.