If you’re a dog lover and a film lover, then this has been a great time to go to the movies, with an abundance of dog related films to get you in the mood to give your dog a big hug when you get home. The most successful of these movies was undoubtedly Marley & Me, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. As famous as they are however, it was the succession of golden retriever dogs that played Marley, from a puppy through to old age, who really stole the show.
The first thing that should be noted about Marley & Me is that it is not a feel good movie. It’s not one of those Benji style films that you can spend a Saturday afternoon watching and smile at the little doggie doing brave things and getting home at the end of the picture. Marley & Me is more of a gritty drama about relationships, the problems within them and how you balance a career with a family life.
Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston play John and Jennifer Grogan, a young newlywed couple who are just starting a life together. They’re both career focussed as professional writers, though Jennifer has a more rewarding writing job than her husband.
It’s not long before Jennifer gets broody and wants to have a child, a feeling that John manages to suppress by buying a puppy named Marley, the cheapest one of the litter. This is where the Grogan’s relationship really starts to show strains, and where it eventually comes together for them. Marley is a naughty puppy, the puppy from hell in fact. He refuses to be trained, refuses to behave and eats everything in sight.
Things get more hectic for the Grogan’s when Jennifer falls pregnant, only to lose the baby just a few weeks into the birth. See what I said about gritty reality? This isn’t a feel good movie. Eventually they do have a child, then another and then another. The couple have three kids, one crazy dog, a house that’s too small and a relationship that’s showing cracks.
Marley is the first to be blamed, yet luckily the dog manages to convince his owners that he’s the glue in their family, instead of the fifth wheel. The couple move to a new big house, a new job and a new start. All seems well, except that Marley isn’t a puppy anymore and he’s starting to show signs of aging.
If there’s a moral in Marley & Me it’s probably that you shouldn’t look to swap what you’ve got when your life probably isn’t that bad at all, and that you shouldn’t leave edible things where the dog can get at them (for the record, with Marley everything is edible).
Anyone watching Marley & Me will inevitably feel that they want their own Marley at some point, and will dispel those feelings when they see what he does to the sofa. The film offers an interesting comment on compromise in making relationships work, which in today’s society is something desperately needed. Perhaps dogs are the answer?
If you haven’t seen Marley & Me, take some tissues with you. You’ll need them.
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