Review: ‘Zoo’ And The True Story Of One Boy’s Love For His Elephant Friend

The family melodrama, Zoo, explores the harrowing lengths that one teenaged boy is willing to go to to save his animal friend. Tom (Art Parkinson), is a young boy in early 1940’s war-torn Northern Ireland. Besides dealing with the average problems that a boy of his age usually deals with, he, as well as everyone else at this time, have the unfortunate luck of living in a period where the threat of bombs landing on their front yard lurks just around the corner.

Tom is also an animal lover; he loves visiting the zoo where his father works and interacting with and taking care of the zoo’s various inhabitants, but there is one relationship with a specific animal, Buster the elephant, that I do wish that we were able to see more of, that leads Tom to pretty desperate measures. In an attempt to ensure that his 200+ lb buddy does not have the same fate as other animals that were killed in order to make sure that they did not escape if the zoo or the area surrounding it was ever bombed, Tom, along with some friends, hatch a plan to kidnap Buster and keep him safe until his father, who has gone off to war, returns home.

I wasn’t incredibly enthralled by this film, but I also know that it wasn’t technically made for me. It’s meant to be something that’s more so catered to the familial unit. Though, there were some character motivations that I don’t think were fleshed out well enough, like one of Tom’s bullies becoming a conspirator in the plot to kidnap Buster; and also the overall pacing of the movie could’ve used a bit more work, I think that film works as it was intended.

I thought that the integration of WWII events worked for this film. Having the war as the backdrop setting helped to raise the stakes, provide antagonistic motivation, and an overall conflict for all of the characters in the film. If you’re looking for something that you can watch with the whole family and if you or members of your family are animal lovers, then you just may find this to be an treat that everyone can enjoy.

Rating: 3 out of 5