Crowe, to his credit, is more concerned with insights about family than romance - and some of these are heart-on-sleeve touching if you've got a sweet tooth for the stickier stuff.
Nothing that happens in this movie is in the least surprising, but it's all quite pleasant and even, at times, moving.
The movie has animals, kids and fine acting from Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, but it lacks the emotional honesty and unpredictability that made Crowe's early films so irresistible.
Damon and Colin Ford as his teen son have an affecting hesitancy, their hearts hovering between the living and the dead.
The picture annoys you, but it also wrings happy tears, because Crowe pulls at your heartstrings in crafty ways.
Crowe seems to be making baby steps into new territory, both stylistically and emotionally.
A professional actor in the best sense, always credibly grounded, Damon is much better than the material, and so is Colin Ford who plays the troubled son.
We Bought a Zoo is so filled with artificial sweetener that it may cause cancer.
Consider it a fine sign of emotional discipline that the movie doesn't overplay Kelly and Ben's romantic possibilites.