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The Independent Critic

Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Alan Arkin, Kathleen Turner
David Frankel
Scott Frank and Don Roos
Rated PG
120 Mins.
20th Century Fox

 "Marley & Me" Review 
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I've had a few friends lately mention the idea of getting a companion dog.

They worry about me being alone, they say. I am a paraplegic adult and double amputee with spina bifida.

Heck, even I have a hard time keeping track.

I understand their worries, and considering my luck with dating a companion dog may be the closest I ever get to a life companion.

Still, I've resisted.

Marley is why.

I've adopted a dog once. Buck.

I fell in love with him at first sight...a 14-year-old beagle. He was SO cute. He even had the same name as my grandfather, Buck.

Perfect. I thought.

I was wrong.

I learned very quickly that I'm much more suited to caring for a pet rock than an aging beagle who, I would later learn, had been abused in his previous home.

I tried. I really did. However, I failed.

I'd probably fail with Marley, too. A Labrador is supposed to be the PERFECT companion dog.

There's always an exception, and I have no doubt I'd find the exception.

If you are among the millions who read and fell in love with John Grogan's novel, "Marley & Me," then you already know this story and the film is largely faithful to it.

Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston are well cast as John and Jennifer, a young couple upon whose lives "Marley & Me" is based.

"Marley & Me" is as much about the growth of a marriage, a family and the individuals within as it is about a mischievous yet adorable yellow lab.

Wilson, perhaps for the first time, actually acts in "Marley & Me." He lets go of the persona of being Owen Wilson and, at least modestly, stretches himself into displaying authentic feelings and emotions. Combined with his already acknowledged gifts for light comedy, this is one of Wilson's most pleasing performances.

The same is true for Aniston. We know that Aniston can do light comedy. We know she can be downright adorable. Heck, we even learned in "The Good Girl" that she can act. In "Marley & Me," however, we get to see all of these traits in one character and, for the most part, it works.

Alan Arkin, who's making quite a name for himself in supporting spots lately, has a nice turn as John's editor, while Eric Dane does a solid job as his commitment-phobe friend.

The script, by Scott Frank and Don Roos, captures the book's warmhearted feeling fairly well despite an ending that feels a touch excessive in the emotional manipulation department.

Director David Frankel ("The Devil Wears Prada") plays it fairly straightforward, seemingly trusting the film's built-in audience to go along with the familiar story.

"Marley & Me" isn't great cinema, and one could easily argue the advertising is a bit too upbeat given the film's not so upbeat ending (which readers of the novel will know).

"Marley & Me" is, however, a good film that is likely to please most audiences, save for those who didn't enjoy the book or those with a strong aversion to emotionally manipulative storylines.

"Marley & Me" is a solid date flick and, with its PG rating, safe for the entire family. Families might note, however, that small children may need to be aware of the film's storyline prior to the film and a discussion afterward might be a good idea.

"Marley & Me" didn't make me change my mind about getting a companion dog (or a wife, for that matter). It did, however, remind me of how much I appreciate those with whom I share the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of life.



by Richard Propes
Copyright 2008

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