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Marley and Me


The Advocate



Marley and Me

Reviewed by John Perrodin

"Borrow Marley & Me for free from the library, but don’t buy it unless and until you’re sure it’s really the kind of entertainment you want in your house."

Am I the only person on this planet who wasn’t enamored with Marley & Me? Now that the movie has made it onto DVD surely it can’t do any harm to talk honestly about its weaknesses. First, the PG rating screams “bring the kids: it’s safe, it’s fine.” Not quite. I’m glad my own children were asleep when I screened this film.

Also, alas, Owen Wilson (John Grogan), one of the most comic actors around isn’t funny here. And neither is Marley. Unless you enjoy watching a delinquent dog chew up everything in sight, and then urinate, defecate, and commit other acts of random doggishness.

The film consists of one joke namely that Marley, the Clearance Puppy, is an out-of-control animal who ruins everything including, almost, the marriage of his owners. When his “mom”, Jennifer Grogan (Jennifer Anniston) finally has a nervous breakdown and orders Marley out of the house, I cheered. Finally, maybe, the animal would be held accountable. But no, Marley was never expected to change.

The Grogans apparently believe in weak “love” which allows the object of their affection to do anything without any sort of meaningful consequences. The animal-human relationship is co-dependent, sad, and anything but amusing. If you saw Marley at a dog park you’d whistle back your own animal so his bad influence wouldn’t rub off.

Some of the non-PG elements of the movie include discussions of castration, condom usage, and whether or not to have intimate relations in front of a dog. Pointless obscenities also mar the supposed “family-friendly” tone of the film. Further, John’s best friend Sebastion (Eric Dane) plays a sniffing, unleashed hound dog whose sole purpose is to mate with as many women as possible. Although ultimately Grogan realizes he’s got a good life with his kids and wife, he constantly wonders what it would be like to get out of the yard and romp like his pal.

The worst aspect of the film was the shameless, cloying attempts to get the viewer to cry. At the end, Marley the canine trash compacter suffers with intestinal trouble. (Hardly a surprise!) Sad to be sure, but do we really need to watch each family member in turn get in front of the camera for an individual weeping shot? Maudlin doesn’t begin to describe the gratuitous display of emotions. Yeah, okay, we get it. This is the “moving” part. Enough already.

It was unclear what the egoist author had in mind. If it was about how a dog can touch a life, then great. This would have made a better 30-second ad for the Humane Society than a feature film. Instead, though, Grogan seemed to be trying to convince the audience that he was a remarkably gifted journalist forced to be a columnist. After watching Marley & Me I don’t know why Grogan’s life and dog merited so much screen time especially when the film often comes across as an amateur home movie.

On the plus side, the DVD is loaded with a litter of extras including making-of materials and commercials spun off in conjunction with the film. These clips of real dogs show a whole lot more personality than Marley the manic Bad Dog. Borrow Marley & Me for free from the library, but don’t buy it unless and until you’re sure it’s really the kind of entertainment you want in your house.

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John PerrodinJohn Perrodin is the Senior Editor for the Christian Writers Guild. He co-authored the Renegade Spirit Trilogy with Jerry B. Jenkins. The latest release in that series is Seclusion Point (Thomas Nelson). His book, Simple Little Words: What You Say Can Change a Life, written with Michelle Cox, releases in April 2008 from David C. Cook. Please visit www.simplelittlewords.com to find out more about the book, and visit John's website www.johnperrodin.com to find out more about his writing.