A Dog’s Life Matters
by Betty Jo Tucker
Among all the downers released at the end ofВ 2008, Marley & Me emerges as the most effective tearjerker. I didnвЂ™t want to cry while watching this movie, but I couldnвЂ™t help it.В Marley of the title refers to a rambunctious dog who becomes an important part ofВ a family despite the canineвЂ™s unruly behavior. MarleyвЂ™s actions give new meaning to the term вЂњchewing the scenery.вЂќ He even makes the characters played by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston quite miserable at times, but we end up seeing how this Labrador retrieverвЂ™s unconditional love enhances their lives.
Unfortunately, while Marley & Me seems funny at first, repetitive shouts of вЂњMarley!вЂќ soon lendВ the film an annoying instead of amusing quality, and the movieвЂ™s very long, sad ending may not be what viewers are expecting, especially if theyвЂ™ve seen those cheery previews or havenвЂ™t read John GroganвЂ™s highly popular memoir, which the movie is based on.
Wilson and Aniston, two of cinemaвЂ™s most appealing actors,В deliverВ realistic andВ convincingВ portrayals of aВ married couple in need of relationship help during certainВ sections of the movie. In fact, itвЂ™s not much of a stretch to think of Marley & Me as Revolutionary Road with a Dog. Too bad the husband and wife played by Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet didnвЂ™t adopt a pup to help them through the rough patches in their marriage. A pet might’ve at least given them a few laughs — similar toВ Marley’s gift to the Grogans.
Marley begins his life with John and Jennifer Grogan (Wilson and Aniston) as a darling mischievous puppy. During different stages of his growth, the dog fails obedience school, wrecks furniture, almost destroys a house while his owners go on vacation, and is referred to as вЂњthe worst dog in the world.вЂќ But Marley providesВ John with fodder for his newspaper column — and therefore is partly responsible for his success.В No wonder John loves Marley so much, no matter what.
When babies come rather rapidly to the Grogans, Jennifer relinquishes her writing career, stays home, and suffers exhaustion from the demands of motherhood. She almost gives up on both John and Marley, but she loves each of them too much for that feeling to last long.
If youвЂ™ve ever had a dog, you know how deeply you can become attached to вЂњmanвЂ™s best friend.вЂќ This warning is for viewers like you: Marley & Me ends up being the saddest dog movie ever filmed. You will probably sob your heart out watching it. I know I did.
(Released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation and rated вЂњPGвЂќ for thematic material, some suggestive content and language.)
Betty Jo Tucker is a member of the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the San Diego Film Critics Society (SDFCS). SheВ teaches an online class, “The Reel Deal: Writing about Movies” for the LSS School of Writing and has published three movie-related books including CONFESSIONS OF A MOVIE ADDICT, an amusing memoir about her life at the movies. Betty Jo serves as the editor/lead film critic for ReelTalk Movie Reviews and hosts a weekly radio show, “Movie Addict Headquarters,” for BlogTalkRadio. She also writes monthly film commentary for the Colorado Senior Beacon.В For more information, please go to www.BettyJoTucker.com ..