Before we start, I’d like to say something that might surprise you.
I know that I make fun of a lot of actors and actresses (especially Nicolas Cage and Katherine Heigl, who are both just awful awful awful actors). And Matt Damon is a common target among movie critics, critics of actors, or just people-critics in general.
But I actually like him as an actor.
Shocking, I know.
I’d also like to take a moment to warn you about spoilers ahead. But like most movies of its kind, if you saw the preview for We Bought a Zoo, you saw the whole damn movie.
And you know it.
Go ahead. I encourage you to watch the preview. Even if you have seen it before, watch it again:
In just two minutes, you know the entire plot of the movie. You know all of the characters and what they stand for. You know that it is going to have a happy ending and that every single character will work out their problems by the end of the film. Not only that, but you have also just heard all of the critical lines in the movie.
It was all gift-wrapped for you in a two-minute trailer, which inexplicably seems to have been created so that you DON’T have to see the movie.
It amazes me that people spend their time and money to watch a movie that was so elegantly ruined by the trailer.
That being said…
I watched We Bought a Zoo the other day.
It was a decent movie overall, mostly because it had all of the elements that make that kind of movie watchable:
- A widowed father, so involved in his own problems, responsibilities, and misery that he doesn’t realize that every woman alive is not only a single mother, but a single mother who is swooning over him.
- An adorable little girl that would make anyone want to have kids.
- A stupid brat of a boy who is such a shit-head that even if you hate the movie, you just have to keep watching to witness his inevitable conversion to a kid who smiles and appreciates life for once.
- A girl who has sagacity beyond her years to see this shit-head boy for what he really is, and brings him sandwiches despite his shit-headedness, which he clearly does not appreciate. And even though she would be better off with anyone else, you can’t help but root for the two of them to get together.
And of course,
- Scarlett Johansen.
But perhaps the most meaningful thing that I took from the movie was the inspiring line that pops up in every one of these kind of movies. Such a line usually appears in the movie trailer and sometimes even appears on the movie poster itself.
The line itself is presented at the climax of the movie, accompanied with epic music and the actors’ tears, and it is our jobs as loyal moviegoers to push aside the fact that we saw the words coming a mile away and accept it as a natural, organic act.
Matt Damon tells his son about when he saw his wife for the first time, when she was sitting by the window of a coffee shop and he walked into the store to talk to her. He tells his son, “All you need is twenty seconds of insane courage, and I promise you that something good will come of it.”
Wow! What amazing words.
Sure, I know that his logic is flawed and that nothing good came from every twenty seconds of insane courage. Like Karl Wallenda, that tightrope-walker-guy whose twenty seconds of insane courage resulted in him falling to his death.
And yea, nothing good came of my twenty seconds of courage that time that I walked through a haunted insane asylum.
And okay, fine… I may have made myself a cocktail or two while watching We Bought a Zoo.
But dammit, Matt Damon, you are so right. All it takes is twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery for me to find love. I am sure of it.
So I wiped away my girly tears and began wondering how I could find myself the woman of my dreams, who would rear me one cute kid and one shit-head kid before she died and left me to raise them by myself.
I sat there on my couch and wondered what kind of insanely brave and courageous act I could do that would lead me to find her.
I could walk around the streets of my town, looking for beautiful women. And when I find one that is alone and minding her own business in a restaurant, I could be just like Matt Damon and invade her personal space and tell her that she is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
Nah. Too direct. And totally creepy for her.
Instead of explicitly telling her how beautiful she is, I could instead show her how beautiful I thought she is through an interpretive dance. Or perhaps through my mad skills in the art of juggling.
Not direct enough. She’ll be confused by the dance, and find me to be cocky with the juggling.
Instead of walking into the restaurant, perhaps I could hire a marching band and lead them in a parade down the street in front of the restaurant.
Too expensive. Too dorky. Too dramatic.
This whole “courageous act” thing seemed pretty tough. And I was beginning to really doubt Matt Damon’s guarantee that something good would come from it.
That’s when I realized that even if I was able to find this perfect woman and convince her to, say, come back to my apartment, things would reach a screeching halt once she actually stepped foot into my place.
I have been living in my new apartment for two months. I had lived in many places before, but I had always had roommates and we had always rented furnished apartments.
This was the first place that was technically mine, and aside from moving my stuff in and buying furniture, I hadn’t really declared ownership, and made it my own. The walls were bare, the shelves were unorganized, and admittedly not all my boxes were unpacked. I needed to do something to make it look more like a living space and not just the space where I lived.
And that is when I realized the courageous thing that I needed to do.
The daring act that would single-handedly solve my boring-apartment problems, jump-start my love life, and give meaning to my existence:
His name is Watson and I bought him at Walmart.
Buying him is probably the most courageous thing I have ever done. Watson is a living thing that actually requires my attention. And while I still have to Google How to take care of a plant, I am pretty sure that the list of responsibilities include watering him, singing to him, and exposing him to sunlight, or some combination of the three. I work at night, and I don’t even expose myself to sunlight, so this is a pretty big deal.
Our first day together was pretty low-key. We sort of just sat together in my living room, and he didn’t do much.
To be honest, he was kind of a bummer. But I figure he was just acclimating to his new surroundings and will liven up in the days to come.
Even though it was a frightening purchase, I feel good about it. Though it took a tremendous amount of courage, it was just a stepping stone in many other courageous acts to come.
Now I won’t be embarrassed to bring women back to my apartment, because Watson totally livens up the room. With the simple addition of one small houseplant in the corner, I have turned my empty-walled apartment into a mystical forest of enchantment.
Not only that, but now I actually have a suggestion to offer the ladies in my attempt to get them to come back to my place.
Want to see my houseplant?
Want to come back to my apartment and water my Dracaena?
Want to head back to my place so we can prune my plant?
With such a specific reason to come back to my apartment, she will know that my intentions are pure and I just want to spend more time with her.
I feel like the possibilities are endless with my new houseplant. And with him by my side, there is no telling what kinds of crazy adventures we will experience together. Even the best Hollywood writer couldn’t possibly come up with the kind of amazing story that Watson and I are going to share together.
And even if they could, they surely wouldn’t be able to spoil it in just a two-minute trailer.