Marley and Me : The Film - The Book
Now it is pretty safe to say that writer, John Grogan’s (Owen Wilson), is leading his life, how his new wife, Jenny (Jennifer Aniston), wants it to be. He gets a job as a columnist at a local newspaper. They move into a new house together in the suburbs. Plus all in all, John feels confined within Jenny’s ‘master plan’.
However, she wants more – she wants a family too. So what does John do about this? He delays this from happening, by buying her a dog named Marley.
OK, so you would have thought that this was a nice idea, huh? Because this just might curb Jenny’s demands a soupçon. No – not really – because Marley is a right bugger you know. He pines from the storms. He crews on the furniture. And he is a right randy git as well, humping anybody he meets, including dog trainer, Ms. Kornblut (Kathleen Turner).
Thankfully, though, this later trait is subsided somewhat, when John and Jenny decide to give Marley the snip, OUCH! Prompting John to elaborates about Marley’s exploits whilst he rises up the ranks at work, relaying these facets within his new news column.
Oh! And let’s not forget. That Jenny finds herself pregnant as well.
So every thing turns’ out for the best, yes? Errr? Kind of. You see, over the next couple of years: (1) Due to an unexpected miscarriage, Jenny and John have a sabbatical in Ireland, while Marley rules the roost back at home with a ‘house sitter’. (2) Upon returning home from Ireland, Jenny suddenly gets pregnant again – thus changing the family dynamics within the house rather drastically. (3) Not so long after their first child is born Jenny has another – inadvertently forcing Jenny to stay at home, and John to work even harder. (4) Because Marley becomes more disruptive with the new kids around, Jenny has a hissy fit, and wants to get rid of him. (5) John senses the coming of his age, 40, and feels trapped within his new-found life. And (6) Jenny is expecting a third child, and announces this news to John after he is offered a new job on a newspaper in Philadelphia.
Ouch! Quite a lot to take in, huh? Still what should John do about this job, huh? His best mate, Sebastian (Eric Dane) wants John to progress in his career. So does his editor too, Arnie (Alan Arkin), even though he does not want him to go. Moreover, Jenny agrees too! Therefore, John, and his new-found family – plus Marley in toe – goes to Philadelphia, and starts there life anew.
Still, does this fresh new venture work out for the best? Hmm? Well, John takes a bit of time settling into his new post. Jenny and the kids fit in well within there new surroundings. And as for Marley... err... he has to take the path less traveled. Leading into hope – sadness – loss – and a revelation on what life is really all about.
Honestly, at first, I was not sure if 'Marley and Me' was: (A) An inter-species shampoo commercial – because Owen, Jennifer, and the dog, have such lovely hair. (B) Some type of beastlity movie – because the dog and all involved seemed a smidgen too familiar for comfort. (C) An exercise video – because there was a lot of running going on at the beginning of this piece. Or (D) All of the above combined.
OK, fair enough, once I stopped gleaming at all the blond shaggy hair on display – and Jennifer’s more womanly attributes – I came to the realization that this is a film that was more than I thought it would be – as it is a very poignant tale of life.
However, the way that film manages to capture this expansive message, is very cleaver all in all. Firstly, it is about a man and his dog – and the trouble that this type of canine companionship is able to bring him. Secondly, it is a story about growing up – and how life can steer different people in different directions, some of which is not always planned. Thirdly, it is about realizing your own talents – and how you can utilize them to overcome any obstacles that may come your way. Fourthly, it is about the passage of time – and how people struggle to cope with there own mortality. And fifthly, it’s about shit – dog shit and the mango like substances within.
Just kidding about the fifth one – kind of.
What was also unexpected with 'Marley and Me', was the way that the overall story structure was unevenly balanced within ‘three acts’. Act One was the introduction and development of the dog. Act Two was the progression of the Grogan family. And Act Three was the conclusion of this tale.
The unfortunate side-effect of this structure though, was the way that the middle section of this tale, Act Two, was very brisk, strange, and fractured in the telling. For example: (1) I take it that this film encompassed at least eight years of a persons life, where the kids aged per scene, the dog seemed completely different by the end of the film, but Owen and Jennifer looked exactly the same. (2) As with most books adapted into films, like this one is, there does come a point half way through it, that you cannot blink or you may miss a plot point – such as Owens rapid promotion through his profession. And (3) Sometimes over-sentimentality can impede an emotional crux of a story – this one didn't – but it almost did at the end with the kids.
OK, so this film does have a flagging middle section. But overall it is a great film. The dog was great, as you really started to love him by the end of this flick. The supporting characters, Eric and Alan, were great as well, and I would have liked to have seen more of them in the story. Plus, of course, Jennifer and Owen are just magnificent, with Owen channeling James Stuart, and Jennifer is... is... is... mine I tell you... JENNIFER IS MINE!!!
Err? Ahem... as I was saying... hmmm... this is a really outstanding movie, and if you are a fan of such films as ‘Turner and Hooch’, ‘Parenthood’, or even ‘shampoo commercials’ – you have to watch it.
And I dare you not to cry at the end, SOB!
THE RATING: A