Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Marley & Me


Review by Chris Keller

If moviegoers were to believe Fox's marketing strategy for Marley & Me, they would expect an out-of-control pooch comedy, ala Beethoven and its infinite sequels. But then again, the Fox advertising department has misled us regarding their movies all year: Meet Dave (they said it was funny!), The Happening (they said it was scary!), Max Payne (they said I wouldn't fall asleep on it - twice!), and so on. Fortunately for everyone, the misdirection in Marley & Me's marketing isn't exactly a bad thing. It actually plays as a testament to the ups and downs of life everyday as husband and wife, parent and child, and pet and owner - i.e., a family.

Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston play John and Jen Grogan, a newlywed couple eager to start their life together. Due to a freak snowstorm on their wedding day, they are inspired to move to Miami, where they both eventually land jobs at local newspapers (they're writers, see). So far, so good, so routine. But when Jen starts to feel restless thanks to her list (a rundown of accomplishments and the age by which she wants them to happen - something I'm positive every female must have), she starts with the baby talk. Thanks to John's single (and therefore by Hollywood standards, a male slut) friend, he dodges a bullet by getting her an adorable puppy - directing every female in the audience to go "awwwww".

From there, it's off to the races with the hijinks of the titular unruly canine. It just feels like a series of unconnected, mildly amusing disasters surrounding Marley. In fact, this feeling is driven home by having the audience sit through what must be one of the longest montages in cinematic history. And having Owen Wilson, with his gravelly, extremely monotone voice, narrate it like he's checking off a list ("Bought a new pillow, caught Marley eating the pillow, bought another pillow, wrote a column on pillow prices") is just another nail in the bored-out-of-my-mind coffin.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film feels like everyone involved is checking off a list. The Grogans have a baby, John gets promoted, Jen quits her job to be a stay at home mom, they have another baby, they move to Philadelphia, Marley has a surgery, yada yada yada. And while all of this stays true to real life, the director didn't stop to think and realize that most everyday events play out as mind-numbingly uninteresting on the big screen. Points go to Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, though, for showing just the tiniest flashes of acting talent, which is more than the amount they've shown up to this point in their careers. And kudos to the film for realistically demonstrating how life can kick you or kiss you - too bad they couldn't hold anyone's attention long enough to notice.

2 ½ / 5 stars

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