If you own a dog or like them just a bit, you should go see the movie Marley & Me, just be prepared for floods of tears.
Last night we went to see the new movie based on John Grogan's book at the ArcLight cinema in Sherman Oaks with some friends. As I've mentioned previously I've still not read the book and so I'll have to comment on the film without any reference to the source material.
It's a good film and certainly has it's weepy moments, but it isn't perfect by any means. The basic plot follows the life of John (Owen Wilson) and his wife, Jen (Jennifer Anniston), and their careers as writers for different newspapers. John gets a new job reporting on local news stories that aren't going to set the journalistic world on fire and ends up writing an amusing weekly column, when he really wants to be tackling hard-hitting journalism like his friend and colleague Sebastian (Eric Dane).
Married but not yet ready for the commitment and responsibility of children, Sebastian suggests John get a surprise puppy for his wife. How wrong he could be. Enter Marley, an adorable yellow Labrador pup.
One of my criticisms of the movie is that you don't get to see Marley as much of a puppy for long. Having spent the last six months with a growing Labrador pup and marveling at his antics, it's a shame we don't get to see more of Marley as a small pup.
Another criticism is that Owen Wilson is such a laid back character, on and off screen, that it's hard to believe that he has the ability to be a newspaper columnist. Equally Eric Dane who plays McSteamy in TV's Grey's Anatomy doesn't seem to have much range as an actor, forever cast as the womanizing lothario, acting his way through with a lift of an eyebrow here and a smile there.
Jennifer Anniston is OK as Jennifer Grogan, but doesn't really have much to do. There's real emotion when we learn she has a miscarriage, especially when Marley puts his chin on her lap when she breaks down on the sofa and when we see her struggling to be a mum of two young kids with an almost uncontrollable dog tearing up the house.
I also thought it was a bit unbelievable that we didn't see the married couple age that much with the passage of time. I know living in the Florida sunshine must be a good life, but a bit of a noticeable transformation in the characters would have been more realistic.
I suppose it's more John's story and his connection with Marley, and for all my criticisms of Wilson, he's ultimately convincing as the grief stricken dog owner when it's time for Marley to pass away. There's some really touching moments with him walking the dog and the scenes in the vet and at his graveside had me blubbering like a baby. Even remembering them now, when I have my warm dozing pup lying across my feet I'm starting to well up again.
I suppose that's why the movie was so emotional for me, as I kept thinking of the real life parallels between Marley and our own Cooper. Luckily Cooper has never been as destructive as the movie pup and fortunately we don't have as many thunderstorms in L.A. as in Florida, but like the Grogan's and Marley I hope that we get to have a long, loving and enjoyable life with our Cooper.
The movie also reaffirmed for me that I could never cope with having kids, a puppy is hard enough work, so to have a dog and two or three young children, would send me over the edge. I salute people that do have both.
It's not a non-stop laugh a minute movie, but it has real heart and I guarantee it'll bring a tear to the eye of the hardest soul. I think you can sum up the relationship you can have with your dog and how the Marley & Me movie can make you feel with Owen Wilson's words:
"A dog doesn't care if you're rich or you're poor.
Give him your heart and he'll give you his".
I give the movie three *** stars and a bucket-load of tears.
If you're wondering who the young Labrador pup featured in this blog entry is, it isn't Marley or even our own Cooper, but rather one of Cooper's relatives, Maddie. She is nine weeks old in the first four pictures after the Marley billboards and has the same parents as Cooper, so she is a Sandylands Labrador Retriever pup.
A visitor to Jason in Hollywood was enamoured with our boy and wanted to know where we found him, so I passed along the details of the breeder and they just picked Maddie up the week before Christmas. What a great Christmas present!
She's so adorable and you can tell that she's related to Cooper.
I've also included a few pictures of what's in store for her when she's eight months old, although I think girls don't tend to grow as large as boys do.
I bet she'll be the same bundle of joy and let's hope she's not as naughty as Marley (or Cooper)...