Monday 23 May 2022

Movie Review: Marley And Me (2008)

A drama-comedy about familial love, Marley And Me is a surprisingly poignant story of life's ups and downs, with a pet at the centre of it all. 

Newspaper reporter John Grogan (Owen Wilson) marries his sweetheart Jenny (Jennifer Aniston), also a print journalist, and they start their life together in Fort Lauderdale. The first addition to the family is the puppy Marley, a spirited Labrador retriever. Marley is hyperactive, beyond any training, chews on anything, but also full of love for his owners.

With guidance from his editor Arnie (Alan Arkin), John becomes a popular columnist. The family expands with the arrival of kids, and Jenny sacrifices her career to stay at home as a full-time mom. Marley grows from puppy to adult dog, but loses none of his ability to cause mischief. He provides inspiration for John's columns, and makes Jenny's bad days worse. Then John is presented an opportunity to return to his passion for reporting, which would mean uprooting the family to Philadelphia.

Marley And Me has all the superficial hallmarks of a lightweight romantic comedy. But writers Scott Frank and Don Roos have something else entirely in mind, and create an engaging story about middle class foundations. Directed by David Frankel and based on John Grogan's autobiographical book, Marley And Me avoids contrivances and settles down as semi-serious look at the effort needed to make a family function.

The dog angle adds humour and poignancy, celebrating a beloved pet as an essential if frequently disruptive presence. But thankfully Marley's shenanigans are in service of the plot, and not the other way around. The core narrative is simple but yet compelling. Plans, surprises, careers, great sex, vacations, heated arguments, child rearing, countless decisions, good days and bad days all make up John and Jenny's journey together. None of it is exceptional, all of it is important.

Through it all the couple emerge as refreshingly ordinary and free from artificial drama. John and Jenny underscore the benefits of complementary characters maturing together, his laid-back observant attitude clicking with her plan-oriented tendencies. They are always communicating, reading each other's moods, appreciating the power of togetherness, and talking through their problems. Perfectly cast in the central roles, Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston don't need to do much more than slip into their comfortable screen personas.

In the grand scheme of things, Marley And Me is about nothing more than routine middle class first world experiences. It's also about nothing less than caring for society's essential fabric, plus a rowdy dog.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.