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We Bought a Zoo

WE BOUGHT A ZOO

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT. A SUV

MATT DAMON is DRIVING his kids, COLIN FORD and MAGGIE JONES, to SCHOOL.

MATT DAMON

Colin, you are going to fail middle school if you don't do your schoolwork.

COLIN FORD

No teacher will fail a kid whose mom died, like, yesterday or whatever.

MATT DAMON

I'm sad about your mom dying too, but you can't play the "dead mom" card every time something in life is difficult. We're going to have to cope with her death in a healthy, non-zoo related way.

COLIN FORD

You definitely won't play that card for the rest of the grieving process, will you? Wait, did you say something about zoos?

MATT DAMON

...

MAGGIE JONES

Mom died?

MATT drops his kids off at school where several HORNY HOUSEWIVES throw BAKED GOODS and their last shred of DIGNITY at him.

HORNY HOUSEWIVES

We all made dinner for you. We know your wife died like yesterday or whatever, and we've taken that as an opening. Eat our baked goods for dinner tonight. Maybe next time you can put your dish in my oven, or you can eat my slice of pumpkin pie, or I can lick your ladle full of creamy clam chowder, or we can have sexual intercourse.

MATT DAMON

I'm sorry Horny Housewives, but I'm too sad and my wife is too dead to have sex with all of you right now.

COLIN FORD

...

INT. HOUSE IN THE SUBURBS

MATT DAMON and his kids are FEELING SORRY for themselves after a long day.

MATT DAMON

I quit my job today because my wife is dead.

COLIN FORD

I got expelled from school today for painting dead moms in art class.

MAGGIE JONES

What the hell, you two? I'm the youngest here, and I'm the only one handling this like an emotionally adjusted adult.

MATT DAMON

You're right, Maggie. I should go back to work and try to endure this tragedy over time. Maybe I'll see a therapist. It would be irresponsible to sell our house and make rash life decisions that affect both you and your brother's future.

MAGGIE JONES

Sell our house? That was an oddly specific thing for you to say. You're an unemployed single father. Selling our house in this economy would be negligent at best.

COLIN FORD

But what if something trivial and slightly annoying happens here right now?

A LOUD college party is happening NEXT DOOR. This is the ONLY MOTIVATION for the ENTIRE PLOT of the movie.

MATT DAMON

Pack your things.

MAGGIE JONES

God dammit.

EXT. OUTSIDE A HOUSE THAT IS NOT IN THE SUBURBS

MATT DAMON is looking at houses with realtor J.B. SMOOVE.

MATT DAMON

So you're telling me that no college parties happen here?

J.B. SMOOVE

Hell naw. But I'll tell you one motha fuckin' thang about this plizzace. It's a...

MATT DAMON

Look, I know you play the stereotypical black guy on Curb Your Enthusiasm, but you're supposed to be selling me a house, not dealing with a prickly elderly Jewish fellow.

J.B. SMOOVE

Back the fuck up. I'm tryin' to tell ya bout the crazy shit happnin in this motha fuckin'...

MATT DAMON

Seriously? You picked J.B. Smoove as your stage name? You're practically begging to be type cast for the rest of your career.

J.B. SMOOVE

That ain't your motha fuckin' problem. The problem is this hizzouse is a...

A LION ROARS

J.B. SMOOVE

It's a zoo, yo.

MATT DAMON

(winking to the audience)

Can I buy this zoo?

He BUYS a ZOO.

MATT DAMON

We bought a zoo!

EXT. THE ZOO

MATT DAMON meets the ZOOKEEPERS led by SCARLETT JOHANSSON.

MATT DAMON

We bought a zoo! This one specifically. Also, my wife is dead.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON

Listen here city slicker, there's a lot more to owning a zoo than rubbing tiger bellies and watching panda porn. I demand you help us renovate this place. The zoo inspector is coming soon!

OTHER ZOOKEEPERS

We hate the zoo inspector!

MATT DAMON

Doesn't an inspector just make sure everything is up to code so the animals have a decent quality of life?

SCARLETT JOHANSSON

Well, um, technically yes. It's best not to think about it. All you need to know is that we don't take kindly to zoo inspectors.

OTHER ZOOKEEPERS

We hate the zoo inspector!

MATT DAMON

Doesn't that imply that the zoo I just bought provides inhumane living conditions for all of its animals?

SCARLETT JOHANSSON

What did I tell you about thinking? If it helps, you can pretend that the zoo inspector killed your wife... or whatever.

MATT DAMON

I hate the zoo inspector!

A MONTAGE of renovating the ZOO ensues while the AFRICAN sounding theme from the LION KING plays over it.

INT. A BARN

COLIN FORD is DRAWING in his notebook while looking ANGSTY when ELLE FANNING approaches.

ELLE FANNING

Hey, I'm a female zookeeper that's around your age. Working here violates several child labor laws. But enough about me, do you think we could have a forced semi-romantic, pedo-creepy subplot?

COLIN FORD

(full of angst)

I hate living on a zoo, but I do like drawing pictures of bloody corpses inspired by my dead mom.

ELLE FANNING

I'm optimistic, love the zoo, and like drawing pretty sunsets and animals, but your traits apparently push my 14-year-old buttons.

COLIN FORD

(no longer full of angst)

Good enough. We should probably get a montage in lieu of actually developing anything substantial.

A montage of them DRAWING together HAPPENS while AFRICAN music from MADAGASCAR 3 plays over it.

INT. HOUSE OF THE ZOO

MATT DAMON is looking over a stack of INVOICES and CHECKS. SCARLETT JOHANSSON enters.

MATT DAMON

I am spending too much money on the zoo. Maybe it wasn't a good idea for us to buy a zoo. I have no experience running a business or keeping up with animals. This is a zoo, but the only animal in the cage is me. The cage of debt.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON

There is no room for metaphor in this here zoo. Stop trying to force it.

MATT DAMON

Perhaps life is the cage and buying a zoo is the only freedom... I'll stop.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON

I came here to say your irresponsible life decisions have earned my respect. You may be driving your children's college funds into the ground, but dammit, you love this zoo.

MATT DAMON

Respect doesn't pay the bills, sweetheart. Everyone from my previous non-zoo owning life says that I should sell this place. For reasons I don't fully understand, I'm here to prove them all wrong. But the zoo opens in a few days, and if we don't have a huge opening day we'll all be screwed.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON

I think you know what we need to do.

MATT DAMON

Have another "working on the zoo" montage?

SCARLETT JOHANSSON

(smiling)

You're starting to figure out how things work around here.

Yet ANOTHER working on a zoo MONTAGE happens.

MATT DAMON

God himself couldn't stop us now!

The sound of THUNDER crashes. A STORM delays their progress. A SAD AFRICAN song from HOTEL RAWANDA plays over the RAIN MONTAGE because this movie has FEWER reasons for EXISTENCE than GENOCIDE.

EXT. POST RAIN ZOO

The ZOOKEEPERS are putting the FINAL touches on the zoo renovations. It is OPENING MORNING for the ZOO. The EVIL ZOO INSPECTOR arrives.

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS

Well, well, well. I don't know whether to inspect the monkey enclosure or the monkey's feces, because they both look like shit to me.

MATT DAMON

You are being unnecessarily evil. It seems like you get pleasure from crushing people's dreams. Are all zoo inspectors like this?

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS

I'll ask the questions here, Matt. Is this zoo up to code?

SCARLETT JOHANSSON

We've had more than enough montages to get everything in order.

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS

Damn you zookeepers! You figured out a zoo inspectors only weakness! Not violating regulations.

MATT DAMON

Time to pack up your bags Mr. Inspector. During my time here, I've shoveled doodoo from every animal you can imagine, but I'm not taking crap from you.

JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS

Muahahaha! Not so fast. Even though you passed my regulation standard, the zoo is surely doomed. You needed opening day to be sold out, but look around. No one is here. It looks like the zoo inspector wins in the end. And by winning, I mean contently watching your dreams be crushed!

MATT DAMON

Why are you like this?

SCARLETT JOHANSSON

There are more important questions at hand, Matt. Where are all the people? Why did we expect everyone to visit the zoo? Did we even advertise this? Is the lack of people visiting the zoo building suspense?

It's NOT.

MATT DAMON, his kids, and the other zookeepers walk toward the entrance of the zoo. They find a TREE blocking the ROAD caused by the STORM. Behind the TREE they see a long line of ZOO PATRONS confused by a TREE.

MATT DAMON

Thank God it's only a tree. For a second I thought this was just a contrived attempt to make us feel like all our work was in vain.

It WAS.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON

Why don't they just walk over the tree? No one could possibly this dumb.

MATT DAMON

Scarlett, if there is one thing I learned on my spiritual zoo journey it's realizing that people can solve simple, commonplace problems by not thinking about practical solutions. The consequences of impractical decisions shouldn't even be considered.

COLIN FORD

Is that the lesson? That's a terrible lesson. Is this supposed to be some sort of metaphor? So the tree is like the zoo patrons' dead mom and not thinking is their way of buying a zoo... or whatever?

MATT DAMON

Or whatever indeed, son. Or whatever indeed.

MATT and SCARLETT literally explain BASIC HUMAN MOTOR SKILLS to the ZOO PATRONS. The ZOO is successfully VISITED.

END