Wednesday, March 04, 2009

MARLEY & ME: Wild But Adorable

MARLEY & ME (comedy)

Cast:Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner and Alan Arkin
Director: David Frankel

Time: 120 mins

Rating: * * * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: Attribute it to labrador appeal or puppy love or whatever, but Marley & Me topped the US box-office charts for two consecutive weekends that incorporated Christmas 2008 and New Year Day 2009. This was a mighty feat considering that this canine comedy was up against solid end-of-year biggies like Bedtime Stories, Valkyrie, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

So far, Marley & Me has collected US$166.4 million (RM615 million) worldwide. Not bad for a movie about "the world's worst dog".

Based on the 2005 bestseller by journalist and columnist John Grogan (played by Owen Wilson), the movie is about the man and his lab retriever which he bought for his wife Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) way back in Florida just after they got married.
A man and his dog do not make interesting news or comedy.

However, John and Marley does. From the start, John allows Marley to run all over him and practically wreck the house. He and Jenny have tried to send the dog to obedience school under a gruff trainer (played by Kathleen Turner) but the trio get expelled!
It is a wonder that the huge but loyal Marley, who chomps up the carpet and cushions, had not eaten John and Jenny's three children when they were small.

Some scenes of Marley's trail of destruction may be funny but many of them look over-manipulated. Some may even make us cringe in disbelief that some human beings can be so silly as to allow themselves to be 'bullied' by their dog. However, where the message of the book is concerned, Frankel fares better.
It is obvious that John learns some of life's lessons from Marley who is the glue that binds the Grogan family together.

Among the cast, Owen and Aniston display the requisite screen chemistry as a loving couple who seem to be living on the edge of 'Hollywoodland' - almost perfect, even with their domestic squabbles. Alan Arkin appears like a fantasy character, playing John's indulgent boss and editor, while Eric Dane plays his womanising friend and colleague. However, the star of the show is 'Marley' who is played by 22 dogs of various sizes and age.

THE LOWDOWN: Marley & Me will probably be a hit not only with dog lovers here in Malaysia but anyone who loves pets.


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