Marley & Me (2008)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Marley & Me</strong> (2008)

(In French, On TV, January 2017) I’m more a cat person, so while I can appreciate the basic concept of Marley & Me (“A family’s life as seen through the lifetime of a dog”) as clever, I wasn’t brought to tears by the inevitable ending as much as satisfied that the story had been neatly tied up. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star at the initially young couple that adopts a dog and then starts a family, experience setbacks, moves across the country and eventually settle into middle age while badly behaved Marley grows old. The stakes are very personal, and much of the film consists of episodes in the life of the protagonist, trying to balance family life and professional opportunities. The dog becomes progressively less important during the movie, but never quite goes away. Wilson slightly tones down his usual hangdog persona (a requirement of the character, who’s supposed to be universally relatable) and the result is a bit duller than expected. Meanwhile, Jennifer Aniston is Jennifer Aniston, which is to say innocuously likable but blander than necessary. More successful are minor roles for Alan Arkin (as a crusty newspaper editor) and Kathleen Turner (as a dog trainer). Otherwise, Marley & Me is cleanly shot, stylistically ordinary (except for a frantic year-in-the-life sequence that drags a bit too long) and not entirely manipulative despite the subject matter, which is already quite a bit better than expected. But, as I said, I’m a cat person.

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