×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Marley & Me

All that really counts for a movie like "Marley & Me" is that the climactic scenes empty the audiences' tear ducts, and in this it succeeds to the point that theater managers may need to mop the floors afterward.

With:
John Grogan - Owen Wilson Jenny Grogan - Jennifer Aniston Sebastian Tunney - Eric Dane Ms. Kornblut - Kathleen Turner Arnie Klein - Alan Arkin Patrick (age 10) - Nathan Gamble Lisa - Haley Bennett Dr. Platt - Ann Dowd Editor - Clarke Peters

All that really counts for a movie like “Marley & Me” is that the climactic scenes empty the audiences’ tear ducts, and in this it succeeds to the point that theater managers may need to mop the floors afterward. A stuff-of-life saga as delineated by a family dog’s 13 years on Earth, this perky, episodic film is as broad and obvious as it could be, but delivers on its own terms thanks to sparky chemistry between its sunny blond stars, Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, and the unabashed emotion-milking of the final reel. Fox has a winner here, likely to be irresistible to almost everyone but cats.

Shifting gears after “The Devil Wears Prada” from making light of corrosive careerism to briskly but sincerely assessing the pros and cons of domesticity, director David Frankel once again susses out what really matters in his material while paying cursory attention to matters of style and other niceties that may count most to aesthetes but go unnoticed by the hoi polloi.

In adapting John Grogan’s bestseller, estimable scribes Scott Frank and Don Roos have made certain to establish a resilient connection between John and Jenny (Wilson and Aniston), buoyant 30ish journalists who, as the 1990s begin, abandon Michigan for Palm Beach, Fla. Jenny runs her life by making lists of things to be accomplished, while John is more relaxed and uncertain, but the scripters and stars know the shorthand to convey the fun, healthy appetites and productive give-and-take enjoyed by the attractive young marrieds.

John starts as a lowly reporter on a local paper under an indulgent editor (Alan Arkin), and Jenny does assorted feature writing. Still, John’s not sure he’s got what it takes to be a good father, so he decides to give responsibility and discipline a trial run with a dog. But if the way they raise their rambunctious yellow lab, Marley, is any indication, these two should never have kids.

As John comments more than once, Marley is “the world’s worst dog”; he chews and tears up everything, jumps on people and is the first dog ever to be “fired” by a crusty old trainer (Kathleen Turner, now well on her way to becoming the new Shelley Winters). The comedy here is so broad as to qualify for a “Pets Out of Control”-type show, and it’s far from the only time Frankel takes a shameless anything-goes approach.

Despite the warning signs of how disruptive a disobedient little critter can be to the otherwise warm lives of two hot young things in South Florida, John and Jenny soon find themselves with two, and later three, sprigs of their own. The years pass; John becomes a popular columnist (writing often about that darn dog) while his adventurous single buddy, Sebastian (Eric Dane), makes him jealous by globetrotting for the New York Times and scoring lots of chicks; Jenny suffers through the frustrations of early motherhood before coming out the other side; and they finally end up as got-it-all whitebread yuppies with a gorgeous Pennsylvania countryside spread and an old dog, which is where the masses’ floodgates will open and curmudgeons will cringe.

It’s a choppy, inelegant picture, and those who chronicle the physical particulars of the stars will note that no effort is made to alter Aniston’s pert, firm bod to even momentarily reflect the effects of bearing three children. But the filmmakers know what’s important here, including the stars’ looks, so they rack up a winning score despite quite a bit of sloppy play in the field.

Animated and emotionally accessible, Aniston comes off better here than in most of her feature films, and Wilson spars well with her, even if, in the film’s weaker moments, he shows he’s on less certain ground with earnest material than he is with straight-faced impertinence.

Production values are routine, even hasty-looking at times. But, again, attention was paid where it counts — the 22 dogs enlisted to portray Marley all more than earned their paychecks, having turned in great performances.

Marley & Me

Production: A 20th Century Fox release of a Fox 2000 Pictures and Regency Enterprises presentation of a Gil Netter/Sunswept Entertainment production. Produced by Karen Rosenfelt, Netter. Executive producers, Arnon Milchan, Joe Caracciolo Jr. Directed by David Frankel. Screenplay, Scott Frank, Don Roos, based on the book by John Grogan.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, Arri widescreen), Florian Ballhaus; editor, Mark Livolsi; music, Theodore Shapiro; music supervisor, Julia Michels; production designer, Stuart Wurtzel; art director, W. Steven Graham; set decorator, Hilton Rosemarin; costume designer, Cindy Evans; sound (DTS/Dolby), Joe Foglia; supervising sound editors, Paul Urmson, Nicholas Renbeck; re-recording mixer, Tom Fleischman; head animal trainer/coordinator, Mark Forbes; assistant director, Stephen L. Davis; casting, Margery Simkin. Reviewed at Fox Studios, Los Angeles, Dec. 16, 2008. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 116 MIN.

Cast: John Grogan - Owen Wilson Jenny Grogan - Jennifer Aniston Sebastian Tunney - Eric Dane Ms. Kornblut - Kathleen Turner Arnie Klein - Alan Arkin Patrick (age 10) - Nathan Gamble Lisa - Haley Bennett Dr. Platt - Ann Dowd Editor - Clarke Peters

More Scene

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. “I’ve seen more smiley symbolism lately, and I’ve [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

  • Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells Black

    Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells Talk Snorting 'Coke' on 'Black Monday'

    “Black Monday” show creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahen divulged an intriguing detail to come later in the first season of the new Showtime comedy at its world premiere, held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Monday night in Los Angeles. “The fourth or fifth episode opens with a sexual harassment seminar, which very well [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content