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Marley & Me (2008)

March 9, 2010

6/10 Beethovens

Liked this more than I probably should have. I’m as shocked as the rest of you.

Marley & Me is about a journalist who moves to Miami with his wife, settles down at his new job at the local paper and buys that pooch on the poster so he can focus on his career instead of immediately cranking out kids. What seems like a total “smooth operator” move at first quickly backfires when the dog starts tearing up the join and they realize that they have adopted the dog from The Omen.

Pretty standard stuff, nothin’ fancy, but strangely enough, that’s why it works.

The thing is, it’s not really about the dog until the last half-hour or so. Sure, he gets into wacky hijinks, ravenously humps legs and becomes part of the family right off the bat, but despite having his name in the title, Marley’s more like the cute and cuddly “comic relief” of the mix. What they don’t tell you in the trailers is that until the final Act, it’s really just about our everyman journalist John Grogan and his mid-life crisis of sorts as he tries to separate what’s best for his career and what he wants to do with his career while trying to make a life for his soon-to-be family.

Maybe it’s because I would kill to have someone pay me a living wage to write articles about whatever the hell I want each day, but it didn’t take long for me to get really interested in Grogan’s life. And better yet, his life isn’t plagued by corny dialogue, it’s not overdramatic and it’s refreshingly normal. It’s been a while since I’ve seen really pretty, typecasted movie stars playing folks just like you and me.

For once, Owen Wilson isn’t doing the whole Dupree act and Jennifer Aniston isn’t putting on a variation of “The Rachel Face“, and it works in their favor. Even though these two don’t look anything like John or Jennifer Grogan (guessing on Jennifer, couldn’t find a picture), they still do a good job of helping you forget that they could probably buy John or Jennifer Grogan if they wanted to.

Features a good performance by Alan Arkin, too, but that’s nothing new.

Now, I’ve only owned one dog in my day, a Jack Russell Terrier that the breeder so oddly decided to name “Skittles”. It wasn’t until after we got her that my mom and I realized the reason she probably had that name to begin with was because we wouldn’t have been surprised if the breeder had been feeding her actual Skittles by the bucketful. Point is, Skittles was effing nuts, so nuts that she eventually had to be put on doggie Prozac so she could function like a dog that didn’t have ADHD and a mean meth addiction.

Sorry for the digression, just thought I’d throw that in there ’cause it’s kinda sorta pertinent.

But, yeah, never had much of a connection with my own dog, but dogs in general are pretty awesome. With that being said, this one didn’t really get the waterworks going for me like it probably would have if Skittles had only been downing Beggin’ Strips, but for the rest of you puppy lovers out there, keep the Kleenex close at hand.

Marley & Me isn’t doing anything new, it just doesn’t do it poorly and that goes a long way. It’s not a funny movie, but it doesn’t really seem like it’s trying all too hard to be one either, so it’s forgivable, especially since you can pretty much predict all the cooky stuff Marley’s gonna do before the movie even starts. Might not be the most mentally exhausting two hours out there, but an enjoyable two hours nonetheless.

Labs are the bomb.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2010 1:51 pm

    couldnt be as good as Must Love Dogs

  2. March 9, 2010 5:30 pm

    I went into this movie thinking it was gonna be total fluff, but like what you said, his life is actually pretty interesting and even believable. The dialogue and Wilson seem to be the reason for that I think. It’s a pretty good story too, it just feels a little long and a little dull sometimes. Maybe more funny would have helped.

  3. March 9, 2010 6:44 pm

    I haven’t seen it but I could see it manipulating you into an emotional my special dog is dead moment at the end.

  4. March 9, 2010 6:51 pm

    I walked into this at the end after seeing The Spirit two years ago, and now that I look at it I should have chose this one.

    • March 9, 2010 6:52 pm

      Good lord, definitely made the wrong call on that one, man.

  5. March 9, 2010 7:05 pm

    I can’t force myself to go through that ending. Dead dog endings always get me and I can’t get away with crying on a college campus.

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