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MARLEY & ME

SYNOPSIS:
After their wedding in Michigan, John Grogan (Owen Wilson) and his bride Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) move south to begin their married life together in West Palm Beach, Florida. They get jobs as journalists on competing newspapers and although John dreams of becoming a news reporter like his colleague Sebastian (Eric Dane), his editor Arnie (Alan Arkin) asks him to write a twice weekly column. When John confides of his unpreparedness for the possibility of children, Sebastian suggests the perfect solution - to get a puppy. They choose a cute little puppy they call Marley, who turns life upside down as John and Jenny buy a house, embark on new careers and start a family.

Review by Louise Keller:
Anyone who has ever loved a pet will relate to this story about a man and the dog who shares his life through the upheavals of early married life, career upheavals and raising a family. The film is not as good as John Grogan's book on which it is based, but that's not surprising, because the book reads like an effortless stream of consciousness from Grogan the journalist, when commissioned to write his first newspaper columns. He wrote about what he knew - and the result is an often funny, sometimes sad, observant look at the ups and downs of life with his beloved, high-maintenance Marley by his side. It's a portrait of a marriage, a glimpse of a writer struggling to discover his strengths but above all, it is a touching story about the profound love between a man and his dog.

As he does with any role, Owen Wilson plants his own style firmly in his portrayal of John Grogan. Wilson is always appealing and here he is credible as the man who often surprises himself. Jennifer Aniston embraces John's wife Jenny as she would a sit-com character. She is lively and animated and although there is little that is deep and meaningful between her and Wilson, she is appealing in the role. Alan Arkin is great as the editor who doubles as a marriage councillor and Eric Dane makes an entertaining Sebastian, the carefree bachelor and serious reporter that John aspires to be. Kathleen Turner is almost unrecognisable in a cameo as a dog trainer in obedience school. Now we come to Marley, the Labrador, termed 'the worst dog in the world'. Twenty two dogs double as Marley at different ages and they are all adorable.

I have two gripes with this film. The first lies with the trailer, which tries so hard to convince us how light hearted and funny the film is, that it strings together most of the scenes in which the dog plays up. Dog hanging out of car window, dog swallowing gold necklace, dog jumping into swimming pool, dog running amuck. These are all funny scenes, but not entirely representative of the mood with which we are ultimately left. The second gripe lies with David Frankel's direction and his handling of the film's final 20 minutes, which although representative of the book, does not match audiences' expectations.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

MARLEY & ME (PG)
(US, 2008)

CAST: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner, Alan Arkin

PRODUCER: Gil Netter, Karen Rosenfelt

DIRECTOR: David Frankel

SCRIPT: Scott Frank, Don Roos (book by John Grogan)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Florian Ballhaus

EDITOR: Mark Livolsi

MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stuart Wurtzel

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 1, 2009







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