Marley and Me

Movie title: Marley and Me (2008)
Grade: D- (1 star)
Rated: PG
Summation: The story of a man and his dog and family.
Spoilers ahead: No


Marley and Me has too much of one thing and not enough of another. It has too much drama – artificially made drama – and in unnecessary quantities, and this works against it. And while it has a few funny remarks, their aren’t enough of them to come close to rising above a depressing, mundane plot. Trying to mix carefree comedy and serious drama is hard enough to do anyway. The only line in the whole movie that I found funny was from John Grogan’s first boss: “When I had my first child, I thought my wife was going to kill me with a meat-cleaver...and I still do.”

I didn’t like it. For a dog lover's film, it had very little dog in it. With the exception of the pup Marley in the first few scenes, the older dog Marley is not star dog material. And the Marley we are shown in character is a miserable, troublemaking, rambunctious runt with no personality whatsoever. The dog lovers will pick up on that.

Marley and Me began as a book by journalist John Grogan published in 2005. John Grogan, played by Owen Wilson, and Jennifer Grogan, played by Jennifer Aniston, are a couple who decide to up and move to a warmer climate. Both reporters with new jobs, Grogan uses the excuse to get a dog, a Labrador for his wife as a pet (really, he does it just to keep his wife from getting pregnant because he's still a kid at heart).

They get the pet, and despite the assistance of a dog trainer, Marley is unruly. And a family comes along anyway. Years roll by and old Marley isn't scoring any points with anyone (certainly not me!) The entire disappointing movie makes you feel defeated. Honestly, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was as though they wanted the audience to feel that way.

Not only was the selected dog not right for the part, but the directing didn’t allow for any k9 appreciation. And the family dynamics were off. This didn’t seem like a story about a real family. Lines like “Are we there yet?” and “Dinner’s almost ready” sound like canned lines, and until the last 30 minutes of the film where one decent child actor comes into play, a 10-year-old Patrick (Nathan Gamble), nothing feels right. And this wasn't Aniston’s best work either.

When we weren’t seeing an awful dog and a continual stream of family disappointments, we were struggling with a husband and father who hadn’t found himself career-wise. You can guess the lesson he learns: the dog they seemed to hate they realized they loved as the years got on (I sure wasn't feeling that!) And you can guess where things go from there.

Yep, the dog dies, accompanied by a mourning family and a father stuck in denial, followed by a prolonged burial scene. It will make you sad. You’ll easily cry, but then again, isn’t that why most people watch animal movies? We’ve come to expect it. We know what’s going to happen by now, especially with dog movies. It’s the same thing that happened in Turner and Hooch and Old Yeller. You’ve seen it coming in every dog film since. Sadly, this is no Turner and Hooch or Old Yeller.

That being the case, why does anyone who has gone through the terrible pain of losing one, if not many, animals go and watch a movie where you are forced to relive those terrible experiences? Having faced this pain many times myself, I’ve learned my lesson. No more animals. The pain is just too much. Animal drama is too easily had, and when they slip away, too hard to deal with. I don’t see the logic of setting one’s self up to experience more pain. I get quite enough of that from everyday life.

These problems should have been spotted. But it was as though the director just assumed that because an animal was toted around on camera that everyone would say, “aw, how cute” and find it to be a good movie. Not so.



Director: David Frankel
Starring: Owen Wilson “John Grogan,” Jennifer Aniston “Jennifer Grogan,” Eric Dane “Sebastian,” Kathleen Turner “Ms. Kornblut,” Alan Arkin “Arnie Klein,” Nathan Gamble “Patrick” (Age 10), Haley Bennett “Lisa,” Clarke Peters “Editor,” Finley Jacobsen “Conor” (Age 8), Lucy Merriam “Colleen” (Age 5), Bryce Robinson “Patrick” (Age 7), Benjamin Hyland “Conor” (Age 5)
Genre: Comedy/Drama


  1. This movie does suck!
    Go watch Wall-E, SpaceCmap, E.T., or something than this piece of dog turd!

  2. Because, like Son of The Mask and Little Women, Marley & Me is a terrible movie, it and the book should never have been made, and Marley should never have been born!
    Go enjoy SpaceCamp, E.T., Wall-E, Jumanji, or something that doesn't suck as much as dog turd.


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