I’m only doing this review so I don’t feel guilty about posting up my review of the new Harry Potter flick later on. But, it does add to the still miniscule list of films I’ve reviewed that don’t have people getting shot in the face and/or full frontal nudity.
Now, I don’t usually do this, but check out the trailer for the film here and then gaze at the poster above. Unless you have shrapnel lodged in your frontal lobe, I’m pretty sure you can hazard a guess what Marley & Me is all about. It’s your standard rom-com affair featuring the misadventures of a ickle puppy-wuppy, right? Wrong. It’s actually a film based on the memoirs of John Grogan, a columnist who wrote regularly about “the World’s worst dog”, which was often moving and true to life. Basically, the poster and trailer are lying to us and we should be very, very annoyed.
Newlywed journalists John and Jenny Grogan (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) plan to have babies. To delay that day, John gives Jenny a puppy instead. Cue canine capers and “fun”. What annoyed me about the film was that it really had no heart. It’s as shallow as a swimming pool in a special school. When the two leads weren’t trying to out-blonde each other, the film expected me to go all mushy at the puppy chewing things. Handled correctly this could have been a genuinely moving tale, a place I thought it was going to after it transpired that Grogan only got the dog to delay his wife’s want for children. Acting-wise, Aniston is pretty much on autopilot throughout, leaving Wilson to pick up the pieces. Thankfully, he is good and I think that Marley & Me contains his best straight performance to date (although that isn’t saying much). Some of his “chats” with Marley are genuinely touching and believable.
We are a nation of animal lovers, and dear God doesn’t Marley & Me know it. It tries to substitute expansion of plot with scenes of a dog misbehaving. The tone is all over the place. It almost felt that the semi-serious film I was watching, which was dealing with family issues and miscarriages, was being interrupted every now and then by a cheap knock-off (if you can get any cheaper) of The Planet’s Funniest Animals. What irritates me more than anything is I know people will eat all this mawkish shit up and ignore this bizarre mix with simpering grins on their stupid faces.
Ah- the ending (Invisotexted). Now, obviously the dog dies. It wasn’t really going to have a happy ending now, was it? Whilst I did get a bit choked up when Marley was lying on the vet’s table, all of that emotion was taken away with Owen Wilson saying the most mawkish crap you could imagine. When will people realise that less is more? If he had said a few words and spent the rest of the time hugging the animal and sobbing, I probably would have cried too. However, Wilson goes on a grandiose spiel about how great Marley was, which sucks what little emotion there was to be found out of the moment completely.
I really didn’t enjoy Marley & Me. I could have enjoyed it if it made up its mind on what it wanted to be (serious film with realistic, comedic elements or sugar sweet rom-com featuring a dog) but it tries to have its cake and eat it too. Which is never a good idea.