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Marley & Me

This isn't just about a dog. Marley & Me is a heartwarming tale of a family with dog DRAMA. Be prepared to laugh and cry, equally as hard.


Based on newspaper columnist John Grogan's best-selling book about his life, Marley & Me is a study of a married couple, who happen to own one of the more destructive Labradors known to the canine species. From the minute newlyweds John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny Grogan (Jennifer Aniston) pick out Marley from a pen of cute Lab puppies, they realize something's up when the seller says they can have him for a discounted price. Soon, it becomes very apparent Marley is un-trainable, as he proceeds to jump and climb and chow down on anything he can. Still, John and Jenny fall for the mutt and as their family begins to grow, as they change jobs, have babies, move to new places, Marley remains a constant fixture. For better or worse.


This marks a sort of comeback for its stars. For Jennifer Aniston, it's a way to clear up all her past movie mistakes. Her portrayal of a woman, coping with job, marriage, kids -- and dog who barks at the garbage truck, waking up her napping young children at the wrong times -- shows just how mature she has gotten as an actress. Owen Wilson, too, has matured and proves he's good at his craft, playing John with equal measures bemusement and joy at how his life turned out. And the two are genuinely convincing as a married couple, without any of the clichés. Wilson and Aniston have both had to take a hard look at themselves personally, but they seem to have come out stronger on the other side. Also good is Grey's Anatomy's Eric Dane as John's journalist buddy Sebastian, an investigative reporter John envies at times.


As for the 22 or so dogs who played Marley, well, director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) should get a medal, handling all that canine behavior. He manages to manipulate the camera to get the just the right "worst dog in the world" moments with Marley. Or he may have just pointed the camera at the dog and let the dog handler yell, "Go for it!" Either way, the dog tugs at your heartstrings. But audiences should know Marley & Me isn't just a movie about the life and times of an adorable dog, contrary to how the studio is marketing it. This is about a marriage and family and all the ups and downs that entails -- and how a beloved pet can be an integral part. If you plan on bringing young kids, be warned it might not be a life lesson they need to learn just yet.

Bottom Line rated this film 3 1/2 stars.