A Movie for Dog Lovers

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Marley & Me
  • IMDB: link

Before we begin let me be honest and admit I’m more of a cat person.  That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy dog movies (when they’re good), but it does mean I’m not likely to give a pass on a film, or go easy on it, just because it has a cute four-legged star.  Based the semi-autobiographical experiences of columnist John Grogan the film tells the story of how a dog changes the lives of a young couple.  If you can get over the cute factor (and the length which, at two-hours, is a problem) you might have an enjoyable enough time.

Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star as John and Jennifer Grogan.  She’s a well-known feature writer, while he tackles the small local stories which barely earn him a byline.

The couple’s lives are changed by two events.  The first is the adoption of a cute, but troublesome puppy named Marley, and the second is John accepting a job as a columnist instead of a reporter.  Although separate they intertwine as the more stories from misadventures with Marley wind-up in Grogan’s columns the more popular they become.

From the trailer you’d expect this to be your typical doggie misadventure film with praftalls, embarrassing situations and the like.  Although there are plenty of those here, the film also takes us on a journey of growth from both John and his family.  It’s the troubles with the dog which lead him to become ready for fatherhood.  And its often love of Marley and that brings the pair back together after arguments.

In terms of tone the film jumps around quite a bit, probably more than necessary.  And at nearly two-hours in length its story begins to wear thin long before Marley’s tale is wrapped-up.  Performance-wise both Aniston and Wilson are fine and there are a couple of nice small roles for Eric Dane and Alan Arkin.  I was less impressed with the over-the-top dog trainer played by Kathleen Turner.

For dog lovers Marley & Me might be a nice couple hours in the theater.  For me it was about 30 minutes too long.  I would caution those taking young children that the film goes to the end of the dog’s long life so be prepared to answer questions from inquisitive children about what happens to dogs after they die.

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