Marley & Me is based on the best selling memoir by John Grogan called Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog. So, this is a life story and the dog Marley actually existed. But, when John Grogan decided to buy his girlfriend Jennifer a cute golden labrador puppy little did he know, what he was bringing into their lives.
Marley quickly turns into a ninety-seven-pound uncontrollable force of destruction, pushing them to their absolute limits. But, during their thirteen-year journey together, Marley's overwhelming loyalty and unmeasurable unconditional love become the very thing that binds there little family together in only a way that a dog can.
There have been one or two dog movies like Turner and Hooch or K-9, where the focus is on the relationship between pooch and his master. This is where Marley & Me succeeds too. Yes, there is a level of predictability. However, there is a powerful emotional underlay that balances out the cozy topping perfectly. And as far as dog movies go, Marley & Me will resonate intimately with every dog lover the world over.
The story follows the book very closely, so the result is a uniquely realistic experience. The script has a great balance of humor whilst never neglecting the real emotional values that are the backbone of the story. David Hankel does a wonderful job directing and the film keeps you hooked all the way through.
Marley & Me can be a little mushy at times, but the cast carries this mixed blend of emotional power and slapstick comedy. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston play John and Jennie Grogan with genuine chemistry. There are some very challenging emotionally charged scenes weaved within the movie. But they provide an excellent balanced mix of really talented comedy delivery and a smart realistic portrayal of the challenges faced in a relationship.
Other notable cast members are Alan Arkin, playing John's grumpy old news editor. Arkin is brilliant as is Eric Dane who is unnervingly good at playing John's predatory friend Sebastian. Oh, let's not forget Marley. As Marley & Me is set over a long period there are a few dogs playing Marley. But, for me, it's the older Marley that will tear your heart out.
Ok, there's a catch as always. It sounds obvious, but if you don't like dogs then Marley & Me would possibly be a sentimental load of nonsense and probably best avoided. But as a dog lover myself, Marley & Me is just a fantastic bundle of fun and just a great feel-good film to watch.
Kids will love all of the poop jokes and bad antics from Marley. But, for the adults, there are some serious but seamless depictions of family life. So be mindful that there could be some serious tears along the way. Quite a magical film though and strongly recommended.