Me and Marley

Marley and Me (Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Alan Arkin) – Beware; the trailer is not indicative of this movie.  Not unlike the promotion of Jen’s earlier movie, The Break-Up, this film appears to be a kid’s light comedy about a dog and his obedient parents.  That’s how the movie starts: a comedy about a misbehaving Labrador puppy that does funny and amusingly destructive stuff while driving his loving, doting owners nuts.  But Marley and Me is more than that.  It’s the autobiographical tale of John Grogan, Owen Wilson’s character and the real author of the book from which the movie was named.  The screenplay tells the story of Grogan’s life from the time he leaves his reporting job at the Kalamazoo newspaper, gets married, and lands a job at the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.  His new wife is Jenny, played by Jennifer Aniston in a more multi-layered performance than usual.  She, too, is a reporter for the Palm Beach paper.  She’s not ready to have kids and neither is John so they opt for a puppy he names Marley after reggae writer and singer Bob Marley.  Eventually, the kids come; the couple’s lives evolve in a generally linear way, and the principal characters age from their mid-to-late 20s to 40.  A lot changes but Marley, destructive and undisciplined as he is, remains a fixture.  The story is more a family saga than a Disney pet story with Marley serving as the emotional center of the film.  That makes the movie unique but it doesn’t rescue an otherwise boring script that drags the film into a snoozefest for the most of the last hour.  Wilson and Aniston are actually quite good here but there is only so much they can do to rescue the movie.  Alan Arkin as Grogan’s boss and mentor keeps the film light enough.  But Marley and Me only has one place to go, and the audience sees it coming a mile away.  But even when it’s over, we don’t know much more about the characters than we knew before, and we don’t know where the film will go next with or without the canine lead.  This isn’t worth an evening but it might be worth a “dog day afternoon.”


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