Unsure about Cameron Crowe‘s “We Bought A Zoo” starring Matt Damon who plays a father who moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo? Unclear if the picture that also co-stars Scarlett Johansson is a family movie with sweet notes (or saccharine ones), an Oscar contender or something entirely different? You’re not alone.
However, in a recent interview with IFC, the filmmaker gave a small hint when he said, “every time we show the movie I keep feeling like it’s got that holiday spirit to it.” Of course what “that holiday spirit” means to you and I might be different to what that means to Cameron Crowe. “It’s a little bit like when Bruce Springsteen used to do those Christmas shows and he would tell those stories about growing up,” Crowe said, attempting to describe the similarities. “And Clarence [Clemons] was Santa Claus and Roy Bittan would just be playing the piano. They had this kind of soulful, almost whimsical holiday feel. So I’m really happy it’s going to be coming out around that time.”
Ok, so maybe that’s the closest we’re going to get to the film’s tone for now. Meanwhile, if that film still puzzles you, you might be interested to know that the “Singles” and “Say Anything” director still seems intent on making his long-gestating Marvin Gaye film. In fact, IFC got a small tidbit out of the director: the film’s title.
“We were working for a few years on a couple different scripts that I was really in love with,” Crowe said describing the gestation period of “We Bought A Zoo” (one of those scripts he’s talking about was likely “Deep Tiki” too). “We were working on the Marvin Gaye movie which is called ‘My Name is Marvin,’ but the time just wasn’t right for that movie.”
That’s a somewhat cryptic remark as Crowe doesn’t qualify why it wasn’t a good time for the movie, but it still suggests that there eventually will be a right time for it. And don’t believe that’s just wishful thinking. Just look at Crowe’s official site, The Uncool, and you will find a litany of Marvin Gaye references. From some of his favorite demos of all time, to 11 albums you should seek out on vinyl and when he talks about the one Rolling Stone interview that eluded him? At the top of his list: Marvin Gaye.
“Marvin Gaye. And Keith Richards. But mostly Marvin Gaye,” he said when asked who did he always want to interview or write about at Rolling Stone, but never got the chance to. “He was underground, living in Belgium, and not speaking to anybody for most of my time at Rolling Stone. Finally he came back to town, and my roommate at the time, Neal Preston, was given the assignment to photograph him for People. I gave Neal my time-honored first-edition of What’s Going On, and asked him to tell Marvin about me (and sign the album.) He did it, and said Marvin was blown away at the rare edition of What’s Going On, which featured a bunch of photos of his family – stuff that had been deleted in the cheaper later editions. He said Marvin went on a big search for a gold-spangled pen, and found it. He then wrote a long dedication, and then got a copy of his new Midnight Love album, and wrote a long dedication on that album too. Both end with this admonition – ‘Keep Gettin’ It On! Marvin!’ Three weeks later, he was dead. If I’m not mistaken, the copy of What’s Going On is one of the images as Tom Cruise falls from the building in ‘Vanilla Sky.’ It all comes around, particularly in that movie.”
Of course Julien Temple is making a Marvin Gaye film about the same period and maybe that’s what Crowe is alluding to, but it still hasn’t hit the screen or even gone into production as far as we can tell (the likely expensive song rights are gonna make or break either film). With Crowe on the comeback trailer this year with three films: ‘Zoo,’ the Elton John documentary “The Union” and the Pearl Jam flick “Pearl Jam Twenty” he’ll have a whole new amount of fresh heat on him, and we hope he can use that to finally pay tribute to the music legend who has made an huge impact on his life.