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  Publicity Stills of
"Marley & Me"
(Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Director: David Frankel
Cast: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Alan Arkin, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner
RunTime: 1 hr 55 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.marleyandmemovie.com/

Opening Day: 26 February 2009


As the snow falls on their wedding night, newlyweds John and Jenny Grogan (OWEN WILSON and JENNIFER ANISTON) decide to leave behind the harsh winters of Michigan and head south to begin their new lives in West Palm Beach, Florida. They obtain jobs as journalists at competing local newspapers, buy their first home, and begin to make their way through the challenges of a new marriage, new careers and, possibly, the life-changing decision to start a family.

Unsure of his preparedness for raising children, John confesses his fears to his friend and fellow journalist Sebastian, who comes up with the perfect solution: John should get Jenny a puppy. "There's nothing to it," says Sebastian. "You walk 'em. You feed 'em, you let 'em out now and then." Then came Marley.

Movie Review:

The world is divided into dog-lovers and cat-lovers. Or so people often say. I must confess that I am and have always been more of a cat-lover. And I’m sure there’s going to raise some howls (and barks) of disapproval from the dog-lovers whom I have discovered are the majority in this dichotomy.

But here’s what Marley has taught me- a dog may not always be a man’s best friend, but at least it will surely be a man’s great friend. It will love you unconditionally, it will be there through your ups and downs and it will be one great source of joy in your life. (Besides, if you’re single, it can very possibly open the door for you to meet new people.)

Certainly the dog-lovers can very well tell you all this too, but Marley makes quite the convincing argument here- and I admit that it has made me take to the canine species in a considerably more positive light. Whether I want to have a dog like Marley however is another question, because much as I will enjoy the fun, I don’t think I can ever put up with the mayhem like newlyweds John and Jennifer Grogan do.

Well at least if I were getting a dog, I’d have the sense not to buy the one the pet lady is offering cheaper than all the rest- “clearance puppy” as John and Jenny call Marley when they first see him. As they soon find out, there’s always a good reason something’s sold at a bargain price. Marley turns out to be more than the hyperactive mutt- he chews up almost everything in sight, he whines incessantly every time there’s a thunderstorm and don’t even think of walking him, he’ll end up walking you instead.

John and Jenny love him nonetheless and Marley ends up becoming a part of their family. And this is what this story is all about- how Marley sees both John and Jenny through as they settle into their respective journalistic careers, contemplate having a baby, having one, then another, and yet another, moving to another city, watching their kids grow up and basically struggle with the things in life most of us will surely identify with some point or another in our own.

Herein lies the reason why Marley and Me- based on the bestseller by John Grogan- becomes surprisingly affecting and heartfelt. In John and Jenny, we see how life is often lived as compromises, compromises between what we want to do and what we are good at, compromises between personal ambition and family obligations, compromises we sometimes ask if they are worthwhile after all. Within such dilemmas also lie the people we care about the most, and the people who care for us the most.

In adapting the story for the big screen, screenwriters Scott Frank and Don Roos have adeptly preserved the realness of John and Jenny’s lives that made the novel such a hit in the first place. Director David Frankel also achieves a fine balance between the whimsical and the realistic, never allowing the inevitable cute dog scenes to become caricatures. And while the movie may go on for a tad too long, Frankel keeps the pace brisk enough so you won’t feel bored.

And of course who can forget Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston? At no point during this film do the two human actors allow themselves to be upstaged by their pooch. Not only do they look like the golden couple, they actually share great chemistry with each other. Indeed, they make an excellent balancing act beside Marley and together become the heart and soul of this movie. Cat-lover or dog-lover, you’ll find it hard to resist the appeal of this utterly charming movie.

Movie Rating:

(Two irresistible stars and one irrepressible dog make an absolutely winsome combination)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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