out of Five
Running time: 116
Ignore its mis-marketing as a dog-themed romcom – this is actually a surprisingly moving portrait of family life over the course of 15 years, enlivened by strong, likeable performances.
What's it all about?
Based on John Grogan's bestselling memoir, Marley and Me stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston as John and Jenny Grogan, a pair of married journalists who relocate to Florida when Jen gets a job on a West Palm Beach newspaper. John quickly gets a job at a rival paper, alongside his high-flying best friend Sebastian (Eric Dane), where his editor (Alan Arkin) convinces him to write a weekly column.
Hoping to stave off her desire to have children, John persuades Jen to adopt a Labrador puppy named Marley, who quickly grows into the world's most unruly dog and provides John with material for his column that turns him into an unexpected success, despite his dreams of being a big-name investigative journalist like Sebastian. Meanwhile, their lives are set to change again when Jen announces that she's pregnant.
If you've seen the trailer, you could be forgiven for thinking that Marley and Me is a dog-themed romcom and if that's the case, you're likely to be disappointed, as a) the characters are already married when the story begins and b) there are very few laughs in it, unless your idea of comedy involves watching a dog smash stuff up for two hours.
That said, despite its mis-marketing, Marley and Me is actually an emotionally engaging portrait of family life over the course of 15 years, encompassing all the conflicts, sacrifices, joys and tragedies that that entails. Similarly, the film gains an unexpected poignancy from the casting of Wilson and Aniston (both excellent), because it's hard to watch them without being forcibly reminded of their troubled tabloid personas.
In addition, there are several powerfully emotional moments and director David Frankel orchestrates a terrific rapid-fire montage sequence that's the highlight of the film.
Marley and Me is a well acted, sharply observed and emotionally engaging family drama that's well worth seeing.
Marley & Me London Premiere