Comedy / Drama

Marley & Me

Distributed By: 20th Century Fox

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            When Marley & Me first hit the theaters, I was surprised at the poor reception from critics.  After all, this was a film based on a true story written by John Grogan discussing life with his incorrigible golden retriever named Marley.  The memoir received numerous accolades and I couldn’t imagine that the creators of the film would deviate so much from the book as to make the film unlikable.   But the critics were not very positive about Marley & Me, saying that while the dog’s antics were funny, the rest of the movie left something to be desired.  Based on their opinions, I decided to forego the expensive movie ticket and waited for Marley & Me to come to DVD.

            Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star as John and Jenny Grogan, Michigan reporters who, soon after their wedding, decide to leave the rough Michigan winters behind for the sunnier and much warmer climate of southern Florida.  Nervous when discussions begin to turn toward having children, John takes a friend’s advice and tries to put said discussions off by purchasing his wife a puppy.  They decide on an adorable golden retriever which they get for a bargain price – I would have asked why the puppy was so cheap, but who am I to judge – and later name him Marley after the singer Bob Marley.

            Soon after purchasing Marley, the Grogans realize exactly why he was purchased at such a bargain price – Marley has some interesting behavioral quirks.  Terrified of thunderstorms, extremely hyperactive and not exactly the most obedient dog, Marley becomes quite a handful for the Grogans, but they have fallen in love with the dog and are willing to work hard to keep him.  Meanwhile, at work, John is asked to begin writing a twice-weekly column for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  Unable to come up with enough material for the column, John turns to writing about the crazy antics of his dog Marley.  The column becomes a great success and John is soon offered the opportunity to write a daily column for the paper.

            As John becomes more accustomed to married life and the idea of having children no longer scares him, the Grogan family decides that it is time to expand.  What will Marley’s reaction to this new direction his family is about to take?  Will the Grogans still be able to handle a hyperactive dog while balancing their careers and their new baby?  I’m not telling – you have to watch the movie.

            Yes, that’s right, I am rebelling against the critics and recommending that you see Marley & Me, but there is a disclaimer, which I will get to later.  Right now, I would like to explain why I think the critics disliked this film.  I believe that they forgot that this was a true story and life is not always fun and games.  Some critics were looking at this film as if it were a comedy with little basis on reality – life is not always funny, quirky moments.  Still others were asking for more drama and conflict – again, this is a true story.  Did you want the Grogans to create some more conflict in their lives?  Sometimes daily life is about the small bits of drama and conflict, such as lamenting giving up a career as an investigative reporter for something a bit less exciting but better suited for your family.  Post-partum depression – not dramatic enough?  Would the critics have been more satisfied if Jenny had attempted to kill one of the family members while in the midst of her suffering?  Again, I say, this is a true story. 

            And for those who said there wasn’t enough drama in the film, I say this: You didn’t watch the film from beginning to end.  That’s where the disclaimer comes in – those of us who have owned pets in the past know what kind of drama might be present in this film.  If you have recently experienced such drama in your own life, it may be too soon to see Marley & Me.  That’s about as much as I’ll say about that.

            As for myself, I truly enjoyed the film.  It is obvious that Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston have a knack for comedy.  The two have acted in several comedic roles in the past.  It’s the chemistry between the two actors that makes their relationship in the film believable.  I’m not a huge Aniston fan, but I have to say that I enjoyed her performance in the film.  As a pet owner, this movie stirs up some strong emotions – both happy and sad.  As an average Joe, I can relate to the struggles of the fledgling family and the difficult decisions that must be made in an effort to keep the family moving along on a positive path.  Marley & Me is a movie that everyone can relate to because it’s so real.  It doesn’t need extra drama or extra comedy to make the film enjoyable.  The fact that this is a film in which the main characters deal with issues that affect us in our everyday lives makes the movie much easier to relate to and enjoy.

            Forget the critics and their initial comments about Marley & Me and go with your gut.  Do you want to see a film that has no basis in reality or do you want to watch a film that you can relate to?  If you chose the film you can relate to, then check out Marley & Me – just mind the disclaimer.


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