Marley & Me Review
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Once upon a time, I had this friend who had a dog. Or, more accurately, the dog had her. She treated this dog like he was a child—and a spoiled rotten child at that. She catered to his every whim, and she rarely talked about anything else. At first, the stories were entertaining—and I’d laugh along and say, “Oh, how cute!” But, after a while, it got old. It seemed as though everything somehow revolved around that dog—and the stories just wouldn’t end. And I felt much the same after watching Marley & Me—like it just wouldn’t end.

Based on the book by John Grogan, Marley & Me is the story of The Worst Dog in the World. After moving to Florida with his new wife, Jenny (Jennifer Aniston), John (Owen Wilson) decides to slow down Jenny’s biological clock by buying her a puppy—a lovable little Labrador puppy named Marley.

  
 
It doesn’t take long, however, for John and Jenny to discover that their puppy is completely out of control. He eats non-stop—and if there isn’t any food available, he’ll eat whatever’s handy. He jumps up on people, he throws up all over the house, and he generally wreaks havoc wherever he goes. He even gets thrown out of obedience school.

But Marley & Me isn’t just a cute little story about a dog who might very well be criminally insane. In the beginning, it’s all about the lovably unruly dog—while everything else in the Grogans’ lives just plays out in the background. And, for the first hour or so, it’s an enjoyable film. Aniston and Wilson make an adorable couple—and Marley’s antics are often laugh-out-loud funny.

The background stuff is entertaining, too—and Alan Arkin, especially, is hilarious as John’s boss. But, suddenly, the background stuff is no longer just background stuff. The dog moves to the background, and the movie turns into a story about the Grogan family—and pretty much everything that happens to them throughout Marley’s entire life. The film loses its focus—and its playful sense of humor. The story meanders through various side plots—from the births of three kids to a couple of new homes. John is always dissatisfied in his job as a newspaper columnist (because he really wants to be a serious reporter), and Jenny deals with the exhaustion and frustration of being a stay-at-home mom. Oh, yes…and the dog continues to drive everybody crazy.

In the end, Marley & Me still feels like a collection of John’s columns—like a bunch of short, personal essays that were loosely strung together. Some are cute. Some will make you laugh out loud. And, of course, some are meant to jerk some tears. But when you put them all together, they just don’t seem to fit. They lack consistency and focus. And, after a while, the story feels almost as unruly as the dog that it’s supposed to be about.

Of course, if you really love dogs, you’re sure to fall in love with Marley—and that might just be enough to make you love the movie, too. The rest of you, however, will most likely lose interest halfway through.


Blu-ray / DVD Review:
The three-disc Bad Dog Edition Blu-ray release of Marley & Me is loaded with features—and cute puppies. In fact, the Blu-ray release is everything that I’d hoped the movie itself would be: lovable and funny.

The main disc includes the Blu-ray version of the film, along with an hour or two of extras. Special features include 19 (yes, nineteen) deleted scenes, a sort of making-of feature called Breaking the Golden Rule, a feature on animal adoption, and a gag reel, which shows a whole bunch of laughing grown-ups, crying babies, and other cute on-set moments. And, instead of a commentary track, there’s a picture-in-picture dog training trivia track, with dog-training tips that pop up throughout the movie.

The best features, though (like the best parts of the movie), are those that focus on the dogs—especially Finding Marley, a feature that introduces a few of the 22 dogs who played Marley in the movie, and (my personal favorite) On Set with Marley, an adorable feature that shows parts of the filmmaking process through a dog’s eyes. So if you loved those bad-dog moments in the movie as much as I did, you’re guaranteed to love these extras.

For die-hard fans of Marley & Me, this Blu-ray release is just what you’re looking for. Along with the feature-loaded Blu-ray disc, the set also includes a copy of the DVD, as well as a digital copy. So, wherever you go, you can take Marley along. And, fortunately, unlike the real Marley, this one won’t chew on your furniture.

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