Written by: Niall Browne, Special to CC2K
CC2K newcomer Niall Browne takes a look at the region 2 DVD of Marley and Me.
Before I begin this review in full, I must give a disclaimer: I’m not a dog person. It’s not that I don’t like them – it’s just that I don’t want one around my house. That goes for any animal really, so dog lovers shouldn’t feel slighted!
Your enjoyment of Marley and Me will depend on three things: one, that you love dogs; the next, that you like Owen Wilson’s stoned-boy-next-door persona; and finally, that you like Jennifer Aniston’s kooky-girl-next-door act – an act that's remained lucrative for her since Friends hit the screens 15 years ago. If one or more of those things doesn’t rock your boat, then you won’t be a big fan of Marley and Me.
Marley and Me isn’t a very good film, nor is it a particularly bad one – it’s just very, very bland. No one here is stretching themselves as an actor. Owen Wilson plays the usual Owen Wilson character and he’s likeable enough but it’s wearing thin. Aniston is also likeable but this isn’t stretching her as an actress. The cinematography is bright and sunny (it is set in Florida) and a pop track is played pretty much every 30 seconds. Marley and Me is by all accounts a paycheck movie for everyone involved – you can’t argue with that as people have mortgages to pay, mouths to feed and manager bills to pay in this current economical climate.
Marley and Me opens with John and Jenny Grogan (Wilson and Aniston) on their wedding day – they have the perfect life, the perfect relationship and the perfect jobs. They move from Michigan to Florida because of the weather (obviously) where they again find gainful employment writing for opposing local newspapers. In fact their lives are too perfect because has anyone ever in their life walked into a job interview and walked out with as much ease as Wilson in this film? If you have – drop me a line, please. The couple don’t have kids (maybe not so perfect then) so to fill that void they go to the pound and pick up Marley, who was unnamed at that stage, but it only takes a 3 minute scene in a car with Bob Marley on the radio before the dog gets his name. Marley is far from the perfect pooch and he’s ripping up furniture and running away before Wilson can say ‘sit boy’. This continues and the couple toy with the idea of kicking Marley to the curb, but they don’t – because now Marley is the key to Wilson’s new newspaper column, a sort of “dogs in the city”. More time passes, children come and go but Marley stays an important part of the family unit.
The Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel makes the film skip along at a fast pace – sometimes too fast, as the film often sems like an extended montage and the blonde and blond leads are amiable enough (I’m talking about Aniston, Wilson and the twenty dogs that played Marley). Alan Arkin, Eric Dane and Kathleen Turner provide fine support, although I did think that Arkin was slumming it and Dane looked too much like a gentic splice of Leonardo DiCaprio and Pierce Brosnan that I was often confused and distracted. As for Turner… time changes everything.
The dog movie genre is one that is pretty light on classics and this film adaptation of the best-selling book doesn’t add anything new to the mix. Are there any real greats in this long lasting genre? K9, Turner and Hooch and Beethoven aren’t exactly in anyone’s top ten lists. Maybe Cujo and A Boy and his Dog– but they’re not exactly a man’s best friend
As a family comedy-drama Marley and Me works okay. It’ll keep the kids entertained with the titular character’s highjinks and mum and dad will be reaching for the kleenex once the bitttersweet ending rolls around. Marley and Me is a pleasant Sunday afternoon film for all the family that won’t offend anyone. While it’s not the greatest film in the world it did find an audience of its cinematic release with a worldwide gross of over $230 million, so I’m sure that it’ll do pretty well on DVD.
All dog lovers go to heaven when they purchase Marley and Me on DVD. Loaded with extras that range from finding the perfect 20 dogs to play Marley (I’d hate to be managing that casting couch) to disecting the old adage “never work with children or animals”. Heck, there’s also a feature on how good it is to adopt dogs!
For actual film fans there’s also David Frankel deleted scenes (19 in all) and a gag reel.
If you’re a friend of a man’s best friend and the two leads (get it) then Marley and Me is for you. However, if you like cinema with a bit for depth and bite then I’d say that you’re barking up the wrong tree.