A Dog's Life Matters
Among all the downers released at the end of 2008, Marley & Me emerges as the most effective tearjerker. I didn’t want to cry while watching this movie, but I couldn’t help it. Marley of the title refers to a rambunctious dog who becomes an important part of a family despite the canine’s unruly behavior. Marley’s actions give new meaning to the term “chewing the scenery.” He even makes the characters played by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston quite miserable at times, but we end up seeing how this Labrador retriever’s unconditional love enhances their lives.
Unfortunately, while Marley & Me seems funny at first, repetitive shouts of “Marley!” soon lend the film an annoying instead of amusing quality, and the movie’s very long, sad ending may not be what viewers are expecting, especially if they’ve seen those cheery previews or haven’t read John Grogan’s highly popular memoir, which the movie is based on.
Wilson and Aniston, two of cinema’s most appealing actors, deliver realistic and convincing portrayals of a married couple in need of relationship help during certain sections of the movie. In fact, it’s not much of a stretch to think of Marley & Me as Revolutionary Road with a Dog. Too bad the husband and wife played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet didn’t adopt a pup to help them through the rough patches in their marriage. A pet might've at least given them a few laughs -- similar to Marley's gift to the Grogans.
Marley begins his life with John and Jennifer Grogan (Wilson and Aniston) as a darling mischievous puppy. During different stages of his growth, the dog fails obedience school, wrecks furniture, almost destroys a house while his owners go on vacation, and is referred to as “the worst dog in the world.” But Marley provides John with fodder for his newspaper column -- and therefore is partly responsible for his success. No wonder John loves Marley so much, no matter what.
When babies come rather rapidly to the Grogans, Jennifer relinquishes her writing career, stays home, and suffers exhaustion from the demands of motherhood. She almost gives up on both John and Marley, but she loves each of them too much for that feeling to last long.
If you’ve ever had a dog, you know how deeply you can become attached to “man’s best friend.” This warning is for viewers like you: Marley & Me ends up being the saddest dog movie ever filmed. You will probably sob your heart out watching it. I know I did.
(Released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation and rated “PG” for thematic material, some suggestive content and language.)
For more information about Marley & Me, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.