Cody was the first dog I can remember having in which I developed a relationship with. My fondest memory of her (yes, her) was when I was raking leaves. I turned around and she was laying directly in the middle of the pile I just put together — filthy. Well, if you can’t beat them, join them, right? I had to have been right around 10 years old, and I jumped right in with her. Dogs are the best friend a 10 year old can ever have.
I went and saw “Marley & Me” tonight with a friend of mine. Before we went, I told her that she’s not allowed to cry, because then I would cry. We held to our promises like the stone rocks we are, but if I were alone, you better bet I would have balled like I was 10 years old again.
Based off a best-selling novel by John Grogan, “Marley & Me” centers around a yellow lab (correct me if I’m wrong) who seems to have entered into the Grogan family strictly to cause trouble. Journalist John Grogan (Owen Wilson — “Wedding Crashers” 2005) decides to buy a dog for his wife, also journalist Jennifer Grogan (Jennifer Anniston — “Rumor Has It” 2005), to distract her from wanting to have children right after their marriage. This advice, of course from non other than Grogan’s colleague Sebastian (Eric Dane — McSteamy in Grey’s Anatomy) who seems to yet again star in the role as womanizer. Who knew?
We see the dog age and progress with the family, such that we become as attached as the Grogan family. After a few years pass, Jen and John decide to start having children. After two, the couple begin to fight and Jen tells John to get rid of the dog out of anger. John takes him to Sebastian’s for a few days, and Jen tells John that Marley’s rightful place is with their family. John asks Jen if they can hold off on children for a while and then we next see Jen coming out of the hospital holding the third child, Colleen.
John begins to yearn for change in the work place and applies for a reporting job in Philadelphia. He tells Jen, who at first disagrees, but then says he can take the job at his surprise 40th Birthday party. The family of 6 (Jen, John, 3 kids and Marley) uproot from southern Florida to chilly Philadelphia where Jen continues to stay at home and John begins to wish he still wrote the comedy column he wrote in Florida.
And…this is where it gets sad. They never really officially tell you how long they couple has owned the dog. But, if you think about it, they bought him when they were married, in their 20s, and John just turned 40, so the dog is at least 15 years old, I would say. And we all know that we have to take in the dog-years effect. It’s what…7 dog years per human year? So, that would make Marley…wow…like over 100 when the movie starts getting to the sad part. It all happens so suddenly, really. Or so it seems and so it seems to the family. John comes home from work and plays some football with the whole family (including Marley), but then notices the slow movement of the dog when they all go inside. Right after dinner, John lets him outside, but goes back inside to get his coat and when he returns to the door, Marley is nowhere in sight. Jen and John look for him, and John finally finds him in pretty bad condition next to a tree. The vet tells him that his stomach was twisted from eating too fast and that he might not make it through the night. John insists on saying that he will. Marley is not just “a regular dog” that statisticians base their research on, no, Marley is not like a dog at all, he’s his companion, his friend, and he will fight through the night. He does. He makes it through the night and for a few more weeks, he seems as if he returns to normal, but obviously aging. John takes him to a beautiful hill overlooking some countryside and tells Marley to give him some sign when he’s ready, so that he can be prepared. They are specific on the time frame, but I am guessing that a few days later, John receives a call from Jen that Marley won’t get up and he’s not looking good. He rushes home. It was as if the family knew. The children cry as their dad carries him to the van to take him to the vet, and Jen says her goodbyes to the dog in the car. His stomach twisted again and the vet says he’s not strong enough for surgery. You could feel the agony in John’s eyes. He had to make the decision, and he did. He sat there and watched the vet push the needle in and watched Marley’s eyes close.
This is a movie about a man’s best friend. It is a movie for everyone. The male audience can sympathize with John Grogan and the female audience can sympathize as well. John says at the end that a dog is someone who can make you feel unique and who makes you feel that you’re wanted. A dog is someone who will make you feel extraordinary. “How many people do you know who can do that?” he says at the end. A dog is there for you. “If you give him your heart, he’ll give you his. Simple as that.”
As heart breaking and as heart warming this movie was, there are some critiques. I know it is based on a novel and I am guessing true facts? But, the story line lacks a little excitement or flair, I guess you could say. It’s not boring. No. I wouldn’t say boring. I would say that it’s more like, ok…when will there be a twist? It was cute and funny at times, but it wasn’t phenomenal. It was definitely emotion-provoking to say the least, and they did an amazing job conveying the emotion of losing your first dog and best friend. It was too normal. It was too ‘this is the life of a couple, their 3 kids and a dog.’ I did, however, kind of enjoy that the dog was the star of the film. I wonder if he walked the red carpet…haha
Owen Wilson, man, he was really good. I see him as being the funny guy. The one who will take a serious movie and make sure it still has some Owen funniness in there, but I’m glad he held back. He was so believable. He really made the audience feel for him. “Behind Enemy Lines” back in 2001 was the last semi-serious movie I remember him, but I like this side of Wilson. I would like to see him in more serious films, I think. His next big release is “Night at the Museum 2” also starring Ben Stiller and Amy Adams.
Jennifer Aniston was, well, Jennifer Aniston. I’ve always liked her and her movies. I think she is under appreciated as an actress and people see her as always being in the almost-made-it-big films. I think she deserves a little more credit. She always delivers a good performance and I think her audiences love her. I think she should decrease the tanning a little, but she is still going strong and I am really looking forward to “He’s Just Not That Into You” released on Feb. 6, 2009. That should be a fun one with an amazing lineup of actors! Don’t miss it.
Anyway, it’s late and I’m exhausted. I’ll catch ya for the next movie. Stay tuned!