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Review: Marley & Me

Marley & Me
6 10

PLOT: When a career driven married couple start getting serious about their future, the husband has a plan to stall any talk of kids. He takes his lovely wife to a dog breeder and finds a loving pup to fulfill any need for children. They soon realize that this dog is going to be much more work than expected. But as the family grows, so does their love for the loyal pup, Marley. And as their loyal friend gets older, the family truly realize how much of an important part of their lives the “worst dog ever” truly is.

REVIEW: It’s a little difficult to not be affected in some way by MARLEY AND ME. If you’ve ever had a pet and watched them grow, you will probably find the cutesy humor to be infectious. It is easy to relate to Owen Wilson’s John Grogan, a journalist who decides to give his wife a dog and ends up loving the family pet himself. It all begins with a suggestion from John’s best mate Sebastian (Eric Dane). He tells John if he gets his new wife Jennifer (Jennifer Aniston) a dog, she’ll put off having kids. So John takes this advice to heart. He brings his blushing bride to a dog breeder and she falls instantly in love with the cute little runt of the litter. While the wife is away, John brings the dog home and names him Marley (after the great Bob Marley). But the romance quickly fades when this hound of love destroys everything in sight. Shoes, couches, drapes, whatever he can get his paws on… and he howls all night during thunderstorms. This film seems to have BEETHOVEN written all over it, but it is nothing like that oversized pup. It is not quite as dumb or obvious as you would think.

Now, the following paragraph contains a possible spoiler. And yes, it is a large part of the movie so you should stop reading now… unless of course, you’ve seen a movie about a man and his dog. Simply put, Marley and Me is about this dog and his owner. We see him take in this lovable mutt and we also watch as this poor dog gets old. I was surprised at how overly sentimental this was, but again, it may be hard to resist if you’ve ever lost a pet. Yet the last half hour or so, where Marley gets much too sick as his family attempts to face the inevitable, is pretty damn depressing. There is a ton of time spent as we watch this nice little family lose their beloved pet. I’m not one to cry during a movie, but damn is it hard not to get caught up in it. This is where the sentimentality ends, and it is downright depressing. So with that, I wonder who the film is really supposed to be for. I’m not sure it is a good family film because this would be pretty hard for young ones to watch if they are not quite able to understand death. I’m guessing it is more for dog lovers, but seriously, that last sequence was just tough to sit through.

While this last bit made for a tough watch, I did warm up to the film on a few levels. Both Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston are utterly likeable. I would almost say too likeable… that is until kid number two and three. As their family grows, Jennifer decides to quit her job to raise the children. With this comes a woman seemingly suffering from Post Partum Depression. I know… I know… this sounds like a blast doesn’t it? While the couple seem to be falling apart, I felt that the script really worked far better than most movies of this ilk. But then within a moments, you’d have a clever little bit with that cute dog taking a dump in the ocean. All the while, it attempted to pack in as much as it could considering it is basically an animal relationship flick (not that kind of relationship). Yet with all this, there are several moments that felt unnecessary and make this movie going experience much longer than it should have been.

With that bit of negative, I did find a few treasures throughout. Again, both Wilson and Aniston are delightful. As for the rest of the cast, I liked Eric Dane as the arrogant but good natured Sebastian. I also felt it was terrific to see Alan Arkin as Grogan’s boss. The only casting complaint I had are the cutesy kid actors who didn’t seem terribly natural, and a wasted opportunity with Kathleen Turner. This is a wonderful actress and she is simply relegated to a joke cameo. What a waste. If they had focused the story more on the Grogans and Marley, I think it would have been a stronger tale. The best moments revolved around the dog, especially during a heartbreaking scene with Aniston where Marley simply rests his head on her knee as she breaks down into tears. A touching image with a strong performance by Jen. While I enjoyed the film well enough, I think that this is really for people with pets and not necessarily more than that. But if you are a pet person, make sure and bring a ton of hankies, trust me when I say… you‘ll need ‘em. My rating 6.5/10 -- JimmyO





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