"Marley & Me" is tailor-made for the former, who will laugh delightedly for the first hour of this unabashedly earnest,
unexpectedly funny movie, and spend the remaining hour weeping openly into whatever absorbent materials they can find in
the dark theater.
(Hide your scarves.)
When John Grogan, a newspaper columnist, published his 2005 memoir of life with Marley, a boisterous yellow lab he
and his wife, Jenny, dubbed the World's Worst Dog, reaction was divided: Some readers were enchanted by the tales of
career and family, while others dismissed Grogan's writing as sentimental pap.
In 2006, I approached the book, by then a national sensation, with some trepidation. (I make every effort to avoid
reading two types of books: those I wish I'd written myself and those in which dogs get sick, get old, die or any
combination of the three). "Marley & Me," I feared, would fulfill both criteria.
As it happens, I was right. The book, like the movie it inspired, is a sweet, surprisingly moving chronicle of a young
couple's struggle to simultaneously build a family, advance their careers and maintain their sanity.
Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) and John (Owen Wilson) Grogan are journalists, a profession that apparently once paid people
enough not only to buy a house but also to raise three children and a large, omnivorous dog.
Marley, as you've probably guessed, is not actually the world's worst anything, but his misadventures provide a colorful
backdrop and a handy allegorical frame for the Grogans' marriage, the depiction of which wisely includes the resentments
bubbling under the surface of many dual-career households, as well as the ineffable joy -- and unspeakable terror and
stress -- of parenthood.
"Marley" director David Frankel also helmed "The Devil Wears Prada," one of a very few movies much better than the
While "Marley & Me" doesn't have quite the same bite, it is a similarly glossy, self-assured effort. (That's probably
because Frankel brought along several of his "Prada" crewmembers, including cinematographer Florian Ballhaus and composer
The movie also refuses to take itself too seriously, thanks in part to Frankel but also to its stars.
Aniston handles the transition from newlywed to mother of three with good grace, while Wilson, in his first role
since his reported suicide attempt, certainly seems more reflective than in previous films -- which may be attributable
less to his personal crises and more to the fact that anyone is going to appear calm next to a manic Labrador retriever.
Aniston and Wilson are also ably assisted by their human co-stars, who include Eric Dane (McSteamy on "Grey's Anatomy,"
now in serious danger of being perma-cast as the workplace Lothario). As John's globe-trotting, womanizing colleague
Sebastian Tunney, he serves as John's constant, bittersweet reminder that with every puppy, every new baby, he's drifting
further away from what he thought he wanted.
And then there's Alan Arkin, who, as John's editor, is hilarious and dry -- it's a shame he's not onscreen for every
single scene. (They say actors should never appear opposite animals or children. This performance proves definitively
that Arkin is every bit as dangerous.)
Marley & Me Movie Trailer
Marley & Me Movie Trailer
MPAA rating: PG (for thematic material, some suggestive content and language).
Running time: 2:00.
Starring: Owen Wilson (John Grogan); Jennifer Aniston (Jenny); Eric Dane (Sebastian); Alan Arkin (Arnie Klein).
Directed by David Frankel; screenplay by Scott Frank and David Roos, based on the book by John Grogan; photographed by Florian Ballhaus; edited by Mark Livolsi; music by Theodore Shapiro; production design by Stuart Wurtzel; produced by Karen Rosenfelt and Gil Netter. A Twentieth Century Fox release.
This charmless film concerns two lifelong friends, played by Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, whose competing weddings, mistakenly scheduled for the same day at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel, turn bride-to-be against bride-to-be. Half the comedies made in Hollywood are based on the premise of boy-men acting like idiots. Switching the gender and toning down the vulgarity to a PG level offers only change, not improvement. Hathaway in particular deserves better material.
Based on a book by Bishop T.D. Jakes, this film is a faith-based love story, secondarily about God's role in the care and feeding of an L.A. couple's turbulent marriage. Thanks to Morris Chestnut, whose warm, easy screen presence was an asset way back in "Boyz N the Hood," and to Taraji P. Henson, a by-the-book scenario (described by screenwriter Brian Bird as "sort of a male version of the film 'Waiting to Exhale'") ends up being pretty entertaining.
However sterling the craftsmanship, the film adaptation of Richard Yates' 1961 novel -- an excoriating portrait of a
mid-1950s marriage built on sticks, straw and delusion -- inflates the meaning and buffs the atmospheric surfaces of
the story, rather than digging into its guts.
But when stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet unleash their
character's demons, "Revolutionary Road" loses its tight, controlled sense of composition and air of solemnity
and, in human terms, matters.
The misadventures of a lovable Labrador retriever frame this sweet, surprisingly moving chronicle of a young couples
struggle to simultaneously build a family, advance their careers and maintain their sanity. Owen Wilson plays journalist
John Grogan, whose popular 2005 memoir spawned this film, and Jennifer Aniston plays Jenny, his wife. Dog lovers will
laugh delightedly for the first hour and spend the second hour weeping openly.
This is a tall tale of a man aging in reverse while bobbing serenely on lifes unpredictable seas. The colorful supporting
characters spill their guts to the wonder of nature played by Brad Pitt, as he begins his life a very old man, ages into
late-middle age, ripens into well, Brad Pitt, then embarks on the big fade into childhood, infancy and check-out time.
This film spends 105 minutes grappling at the edge of camp, cheap laughs and cliches. Yet the way it is handled by
director Darren Aronofsky and especially by Mickey Rourke, who really should get an Oscar for his portrayal of Randy The Ram
Robinson, a steroid-addled sweetie in tights, it stays honest and keeps on fighting.
Valkyrie, a plot to assassinate Hitler, stars Tom Cruise as Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, a cultured aesthete who turned
against his supreme commander. Cruise is not bad, but he cannot suggest the aristocratic hauteur or the steely authority
needed in this role. Going into this film, you know how things are going to come out. Still, with actors as good as Tom
Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Thomas Kretschmann and Kenneth Branagh in key supporting roles, this ensemble piece avoids the
usual action-movie triumphalism.
Adam Sandler plays Skeeter, a hotel handyman under the thumb of the owner (Richard Griffiths) and manager (Guy Pearce). Skeeter and his sister (Courteney Cox) grew up in a motel bungalow court, and Skeeter longs for a crack at running the hotel that's built on the site. While Sis is away, Skeeter must baby-sit for his niece and nephew, and the adventure stories he spins become fantasy vignettes that somehow manage to improve his disappointing life. It's an adequate idea, dutifully delivered.
Kate Winslet stars in the film version of the Bernhard Schlink novel about a 15-year-old West German boy who, in 1958,
embarks on an affair with a 36-year-old trolley conductor with more on her mind, and in her past, than she admits.
The novel was hugely popular as well as controversial worldwide
Jim Carrey plays a loan officer who cannot get out of his self-pitying rut three years after a breakup. Then he encounters a self-help guru (Terence Stamp, in his first genuinely funny screen appearance) who challenges
his followers to say yes to every single thing that comes their way.
Clint Eastwood performance as a reclusive Korean War veteran toughing it out in a sketchy Detroit-area neighborhood may well lead to his first Academy Award for acting. After the vets young neighbor (Bee Vang) breaks into his garage to steal the car for which this film is named, our hero sets out to teach the boy how to stand up to his venal gangsta cousins.
Will Smith plays an IRS agent who has committed a terrible deed and appears to be investigating the cases of a carefully selected group of people, including a seriously ill heart patient (Rosario Dawson) and a blind pianist (Woody Harrelson).
This earnest, emotional film is a mixed but pretty interesting bag, though its G rating may mislead some parents into taking 4 or 5 year-olds to it, which could lead to some freakouts. Much of the movie, based on a Newbery Medal-winning book, has a grim narrative.
Marley & Me starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer AnistonMovie Review | Michael Phillips Reviews Marley & Me Marley & Me Movie Review & Movie Trailer
Marley & Me stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston.
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