By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox
Marley & Me
Marley & Me is The Notebook of dog movies. I'm immune to tears because I'm a rock and I know what's coming, but the film expertly buries its tear jerking moments in humanity, so you never feel the manipulation.
Review: Marley & Me
It also transcends the dog movie genre. Marley & Me is the best portrayal of an American family I can ever remember seeing. There are some wonderful movies about dysfunctional families and those can be poignant and instructive at their best. It's an American life in dog years as we get to see John and Jenny Grogan (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston)'s marriage from adopting Marley as a puppy through having three human children.
The amazing thing is this is a healthy marriage. They don't quibble and bait each other over superficial differences. They actually enjoy each other. When things get sad or difficult throughout family happenings, it may get rough but they ultimately communicate and support each other. Even their one-liners are productive, not antagonistic.
The serious stuff is honest, not overbearing or condescending. They actually face issues. There's no stunting around it. No stopping a wedding to solve their differences, no running around naked to solve baby crises. These are real family values, not what some pundit says they should be. The dog is a vessel for all of this.
Even as a dog movie, Marley & Me presents a better adorable mess than its counterparts. John handles Marley's incidents with maturity, not screaming. He actually wants the dog so it's not a conflict, just a responsibility.
Marley is awesome. He's not obnoxious. He's an individual personality, kind of like a cat. He actually does funny gags.
The really amazing thing about Marley & Me though is its portrayal of real life. It shows marriage and family doesn't have to be boring and conflict doesn't have to be destructive. I don't know what the Rules of Attraction style digital montage of dog moments is doing in here, but I like that too.