MARLEY AND ME
**** (out of 5)
December 25, 2008
Owen Wilson as JOHN GROGAN
Jennifer Aniston as JENNIFER GROGAN
Eric Dane as SEBASTIAN
Kathleen Turner as MS. KORNBLUT
Alan Arkin as ARNIE KLEIN
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: David Frankel
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I love dogs. I have loved dogs all my life. I grew up without a dog as a family pet, until I graduated college. Then, my family welcomed the four-legged members into our home.
Even growing up, without a dog of my own, I loved the dogs that I knew through extended family and friends. However, with this deep-seeded adoration for man’s best friend, I was a bit leery of “Marley and Me.”
I hadn’t read the book, and I wasn’t expecting much from a movie that seemed to be nothing more than a grown-up version of a boy and his dog. However, after seeing the movie, I fell in love with Marley and his remarkable yet very common and relatable story.
“Marley and Me” tells the story of newspaper writer John Grogan (Owen Wilson). After moving to Miami, he scores a job at the big newspaper, and in an act of domestication, he gets a dog. This mischievous yellow lab turns out to be the worst dog in the world, destroying his house and possessions and alienating the family from the local dog park.
However, over the years, Marley the yellow lab becomes a member of the family. He may be misbehaved, but he showers the family with unconditional love, and he is a part of their home. The film follows the life and times of Marley as he sees his humans through their own ups and downs.
“Marley and Me” is rather simple, but it does what a movie is supposed to do. It sucks you in with humor and warmth, and anyone who has had a dog of their own will identify with much of the film.
When it comes to the stars, it’s clearly the dogs that play Marley in various stages of his life that steal the show. Still, Owen Wilson lends his self-deprecating touch to the film, playing the heel of Marley’s life perfectly. Even Jennifer Aniston, who normally is a bit annoying to me, works well in this film.
The movie may not be a masterpiece, and it’s not anything that’s going to win big awards, but as a sweet and touching film, it’s about as perfect as it could be.
But be forewarned. This film follows the entire life of a dog as he proves to be a loyal, faithful companion to a family. It’s not just the happy moments, but the heartbreaking ones too. This movie should make even those in the audience with the hardest hearts cry.
In fact, my seven year old son, who is very tender hearted, saw the film with my sister, a dog fanatic. My son bragged that he only used two tissues while my sister used four. See how many you’ll need when you see this movie.
“Marley and Me” is ideal for family viewing, but I’d leave the youngest at home unless you’re ready to field some of the more difficult questions children may ask about dog ownership. After all, the late George Carlin once noted that when you get a dog, you’re buying into a future tragedy.
“Marley and Me” pulls all the right strings and pushes all the right buttons. If you forgive the pun, it is a doggoned manipulative movie. But it’s also a doggoned great movie.
Still, I don’t mind a little bit of manipulation by the filmmakers if it’s done in with their hearts in the right place. “Marley and Me” manages to have a great message without ramming it down your throat.
Dog lovers will get swept up in the movie’s emotion. Dog owners will live vicariously through the characters and grow to love the adorable character of Marley.
Cat people… well, you might just want to sit this one out.