Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Marley & Me

Marley & Me

 

  • Released Internationally on 25/12/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 18/03/09

 

In a nutshell

Back in 2005 John Grogan, an American journalist, published a memoir entitled Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, which chronicled a turbulent thirteen-year relationship with his pet Labrador. A huge bestseller, the book was later adapted as a children’s book, and has now made the predictable, but much-welcomed leap to the big screen.

Evil with a dog face

Soon after marrying his girlfriend Jenny, John Grogan moved with her to Florida where they could pursue their journalist careers in a sunny climate. Originally bought as a present for Jenny, as an attempt to temporarily quell her maternal instincts, Marley proved to be a handful from the start, and quickly turned the couple’s life, and house, upside down. He never fit in with the expected norms of canine behaviour, and no amount of training, discipline or attention could calm him down. Named after the Jamaican reggae legend, he was never quite as laid-back.

Paws for thought

Although marketed as a romantic comedy about a dog, the film pleasantly surprises by being far more than the title would have us believe. Over the thirteen years of Marley’s frantic life, Jenny and John rush through their thirties, have three children, move house, make tough career decisions, and have their relationship severely tested by all of the above. A catalyst for change, and yet a constant feature throughout, Marley is simply one of the many factors in their family’s story.

A different breed of romantic comedy

The triumph of this film is that is successfully manages to portray a very convincing relationship filled with life’s tough decisions, without ever becoming too sombre or preachy. Dogs and palm beaches aside, these are life events that everyone comes across, whether now, ten years ago, or in ten year’s time. Marley’s antics manage to keep the pace quick and the tone light, but the film delves far deeper than your average romantic comedy, and is all the more involving for it. The thirteen years fly by, at one point thanks to a wonderfully conceived and edited ‘two-year montage’, but the key life moments stick in the mind, largely thanks to Jennifer Aniston’s compelling portrayal.

Who’s in it?

Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers, The Royal Tenenbaums) slips easily into the role of likeable, laid-back John who is now facing some issues with settling down. Aniston shines as Jenny, and will hopefully move onto even more demanding roles rather than remaining typecast in romantic comedies. Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine, Edward Scissorhands) is entertaining as usual in his small role as John’s tough but well-meaning editor, and Kathleen Turner (Romancing the Stone, The Accidental Tourist) makes an awkward and brief cameo as a dog trainer with mettle. David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) juggles the pathos and the craziness well as director, and manages to cover a lot of ground in just under two hours.

In the end

Whatever your age, something should strike a chord here, and as mentioned above the relationship between Jenny and John is as much the focus as the titular dog. If you’re a dog lover, this should be a treat, whereas if you’re not, you’ll probably still find it hard to resist Marley’s enduring appeal, and especially the film’s charm.

 

Mark7

 

Trailer:

http://www.apple.com/trailers/fox/marleyandme/ (High-res Quicktime)

 

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