Ten years have passed since Academy Award-winner Cameron Crowe – the filmmaker behind beloved titles like Say Anything…, Jerry Maguire, and Almost Famous – released a decent movie (his Vanilla Sky remake). His last directorial effort, Elizabethtown, was a critical and financial dud, and it’s fair to say that expectations have been muted for Crowe’s first film in six years: this winter’s We Bought a Zoo.

An official trailer has been released for We Bought a Zoo, which is aiming to mix sentimental comedy and drama like Crowe’s classic work. Whether the final product will be charmingly sweet (or glib and overly-cutesy) is a matter for debate.

We Bought a Zoo is an adaptation of Benjamin Mee’s popular memoir, which is fully titled “We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives Forever.” Got all that?

Here is the official synopsis for Crowe’s adaptation of We Bought a Zoo:

This holiday season, acclaimed filmmaker Cameron Crowe directs an amazing and true story about a single dad (Matt Damon) who decides his family needs a fresh start, so he and his two children move to the most unlikely of places: a zoo. With the help of an eclectic staff, and with many misadventures along the way, the family works to return the dilapidated zoo to its former wonder and glory.

Now check out the official We Bought a Zoo trailer (via iTunes Movie Trailers) below:

In case you didn’t catch on already, We Bought a Zoo is all about tugging on your heartstrings and attempting to convey the whimsy and wonder of its based-on-true-events storyline. The film also looks to feature the sort of tired stock characters (ex. Damon as the “soulful” male lead and Scarlett Johansson as the young woman, determined to help him out of his existential funk) and other overused elements – cutesy humor, preachy philosophical conversations – that have appeared in many a previous Crowe film. Remember, Kirsten Dunst’s character in Crowe’s Elizabethtown actually inspired the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl!

Getting back to the point: We Bought a Zoo doesn’t look to cover any sort of new territory – or vary at all in tone and style – from the rest of Crowe’s filmography (for better or for worse). However, besides Damon and Johansson, the film does boast a nice cast that includes Elle Fanning (Super 8), Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous), and Oscar-nominee Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) in supporting roles.

Plus, as far as family-friendly films go, this one looks relatively harmless. After all, what would you rather watch with your younger relations this upcoming holiday season: Matt Damon bonding with his children by taking care of wild animals in We Bought a Zoo – or CGI critters singing Lady Gaga tunes in Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked?

On that note – check out the We Bought a Zoo poster below:

We Bought a Zoo arrives in U.S. theaters on December 23rd, 2011.

Source: iTunes Movie Trailers