Wilson and Aniston clearly have a strong chemistry together. Their scenes can be sweet and funny but they are also able to bring a realism to the characters when life is not easy or simple.
Based on the bestselling book by John Grogan, Marley & Me executes the often-failed balancing act of being family friendly and also a well-made movie. There are plenty of cute dog scenes but also touching moments that show the reality of making and raising a family. It also manages to be the perfect holiday movie without revolving around Christmas at all.
John Grogan (Owen Wilson) and his new wife, Jenny (Jennifer Aniston), move to south Florida to begin their new life together, each taking jobs as reporters at different newspapers. While Jenny’s career takes off immediately, John gets stuck as a columnist, the one job he thought he would never want to do. His editor, Arnie (Alan Arkin), gives John more and more room to write, knowing that he has a knack for the job.
When John thinks Jenny is starting to hear her biological clock ticking, he tries to stave off the child route and surprises her with a new puppy, Marley. Immediately we see that Marley is not like other dogs. He destroys everything he can reach, eats anything he can chew and chases anything on the ground. He is, as he is called many times, the World’s Worst Dog. The rest of the movie shows how John and Jenny’s life changes with Marley along for the ride.
Wilson and Aniston clearly have a strong chemistry together. Their scenes can be sweet and funny but they are also able to bring a realism to the characters when life is not easy or simple. The two play off each other well and make their relationship seem genuine, which is crucial to the style of the movie. Aniston especially is not simply the supportive wife. She has her own challenges to deal with, and does a terrific job of showing the difficulty couples endure in their relationships.
Arkin is terrific as John’s editor and strongest supporter. He has the deadpan delivery of a talented and confident actor who trusts the script and his ability to make the audience laugh. Without Arkin, the movie would be missing a lot of its heart.
The script was written by Scott Frank (The Lookout, Out of Sight) and Don Roos (Happy Endings, The Opposite of Sex), so the story and characters are all well drawn and dynamic. The movie never rushes through any of the important events that affect John and Jenny’s life, and there is never an overabundance of cute dog stuff, though there is plenty of it. The movie is about a family and how sometimes you have to forget the plans you make and accept what life has in store for you.
If you’re a dog lover, Marley & Me is the perfect movie for you because it shows how big of a role dogs play in our lives. Aside from that, it is a wonderful story about family and what is important in life. | Matthew F. Newlin