NEW At the Majestic Bay: 'Marley and Me' slow but sentimental
Marley and Me
Dir. David Frankel
PG, 120 min.
While the previews made it look more like the next "Beethoven" film, "Marley and Me," based on the book of the same title, relies more on the character-driven story than crazy dog antics and has more substance and story than you might expect.
The film details the lives of John and Jennifer Grogan (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston), starting with their wedding night and following the ups and downs of beginning a life together and building their careers as journalists.
Both Grogans find careers with major newspapers in southern Florida, and while John Grogan has always fancied himself a reporter, he finds great success writing a weekly column about his daily life peppered with Marley's wild antics.
Marley, a Labrador retriever, comes into the family as a stopgap for starting a family as Jennifer feels the ticking of her biological clock. Marley seems to live up to his nickname of "the worst dog in the world," chewing up furniture, swallowing expensive jewelry and just generally creating chaos wherever he goes. However, it's clear that John and Jennifer have already started their family.
Aniston and Wilson have great chemistry together, and these roles allow them to give a more mature performance than their usual romantic comedies. Overall, the actors carry the film well, which is necessary because the plot is fairly slow with little action that isn't related to Marley's antics.
The filmmakers could have done a better job of finding dogs that looked alike as Marley ages. In one particular scene, the transition between dog "actors" is quite jarring.
"Marley and Me" is billed as a family film, but at two hours and with a slow storyline, it's a little too long to keep children interested. The story focuses much on the adults' issues of dealing with job satisfaction, balancing careers and family life and doesn't have the comical tone of your average family dog movie.
The movie takes a long time to get going and a long time to end, but the heart of the story is good. Though the film is sentimental, and the end is quite heart wrenching, the sentiment is honest and not too heavy-handed.
The book somehow seems to have more energy than the film, and a few more laughs. Part of what made the book so successful (and humorous) is Grogan's constant narration, which was missing from the film. Though the film provided occasional reflective voiceovers, and there were a few scenes that drew laughs, the movie's comedy was sometimes too based on the cute dog factor, and felt like it was missing the mark a bit.
Overall, the tone of both the book and the movie are the same, a heartwarming story about family, life and man's best friend.
Current films at the Majestic Bay include; Gran Torino (12:30 p.m., 4, 7, 9:55), Frost/Nixon (12:15 p.m., 3:30, 6:35, 9:35), Slumdog Millionaire (Noon, 3:45, 6:45, 9:45)
January 23, 2009