Thursday, December 25, 2008
Movie review: Marley & Me
It’s exactly what you don’t want the kids and family to feel on Christmas Day, unless you are the Grinch.
This movie has been marketed as a romantic comedy, right? Or at least maybe a family comedy, ya? But you would least expect a drama from the trailers, no? Obviously, this is the major problem with the flick. It jumps from genre to genre but mainly steers towards the dramatic section, surprisingly forcing you to leave the theater rather depressed. And it’s exactly what you don’t want the kids and family to feel on Christmas Day, unless you are the Grinch.
Marley & Me starts off with a typical rom-com plotline. Journalists John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny Grogan (Jennifer Aniston), having just gotten married are completely in love. He learns immediately that she likes to plan everything out, such as when to buy a house, when to have a kid, when to move, etc. Freaking John out, he decides to jumble up her life by getting a dog, which doesn’t fit into her “plan.” The couple laughs and grows together when they adopt a rowdy puppy, Marley, which turns out to be “the world’s worst dog.” Insert a montage of the dog chewing up furniture, running through yards, yanking the humans all around the place, and a slapstick scene of dog-training. But you enjoy this part of the movie because it is what you expect, and the puppy is cute.
Queue the next segment when John and Jenny decide to start a family, which gets a little dark with Jenny trying to conceive. Finally, when they are able to start the family, more drama ensues veering away from the romantic comedy. John goes through a crisis, stressing about money but how he wants to enjoy his journalism career and report meaningful news rather than bloggish features.
With more kids popping up, the family story begins, which is natural and flows fine with the story. You seem to just go with it because it is a realistic progression. Housing situations are reconsidered, more mid-life crisis behavior is experienced, babies are crying, and squabbles between the couple occur, mainly because of the dog’s bad behavior. The kids grow older, and the dog has become part of the family, no matter how much trouble he causes.
SPOILER ALERT, kinda: So the family grows older a few more years, meaning the dog gets older. Thus, it is time for the inevitable to happen, which gets milked for a long time (at least 40 minutes). Granted the situation is incredibly sad, but the script seems to drag it out so much that you really can’t bear to witness anymore heartache. The movie tries to convey a good message about how having a dog provides you unconditional love, but that will be overshadowed by your own depression as you leave the theater.
Therefore, as the movie jumps from comedy, to realistic family situations, to a depressing drama, you get lost and feel the randomness of the story. Adapted from a book, you can apparently tell this flows better written than two-hour live-action.
As far as the leads, they are fine. Sitcom-y Jennifer Aniston and goofy Owen Wilson don’t add or subtract anything. Their dramatic scenes are nothing special. Although the dog is lovable to look at, being such a mess to deal with gets old. How many times can you hear someone make a remark about the dog eating something unusual?
Honestly, not sure if dog-lovers will even enjoy this film. Not even the kids. Not even a couple going on a date. Unless you get depressed by the holiday season, your misery can definitely be kept company.