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DVD Review

DVD cover

Marley & Me


Starring: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Alan Arkin, Eric Dane and Kathleen Turner
Twentieth Century Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 06 July 2009

Following their marriage, John and Jenny Grogan move to the city to work as reporters on competing papers. When Jenny starts talking about starting a family John decides that they should instead get a dog, to see if they can look after another being. Named after Bob Marley, Marley is a boisterous, chaotic yellow Labrador, whose affection for his new family is equal to his misunderstanding of what humans want. Although his behaviour is destructive it holds no malice. Through the next fourteen years we follow Marley and his new family as children arrive and their circumstances change. But nothing lasts forever and when an aging Marley suffers his second attack of gastric dilatation-volvulus John has to decide what is best for a loved member of his family...

Marley and Me (2008 - 1 hr, 50 min, 50 sec) is a family film directed by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada (2006)). The screenplay, by Scott Frank and Don Roos, was adapted from the book by John Grogan which detailed the true story of John's family dog. Jennifer Aniston was nominated in the 2008 Kids' Choice Awards, USA, for best actress.

I was already willing to hate this film, expecting a mawkish story, so I was pleasantly surprised just how well the film is constructed. The story of the dog's relationship with his family is told with a rare honesty which will resonate with anyone who has owned and loved a pet. Marley is into everything/ About the only thing, in the film, he doesn’t try to eat is the children; everything else is apparently fair game.

The film's structure is fairly straightforward. In act one we are introduced to the family and they get a dog. Act two is filled with Marley’s antics and act three sees the sad but inevitable demise of the dog. The film is squarely aimed at a family audience so there is the bittersweet experience for the adults, who have likely had and lost a pet, and the kids will enjoy Marley’s disregard for human convention as he systematically chews anything within his reach, much to the exasperation of his owners.

David Frankel keeps the pace brisk, so that the film remains engaging throughout. The two main leads were a surprise in their ability to project a believable, honest loving couple, neither of which are perfect. Jennifer Aniston (Jennifer) is good, especially in the few dramatic scenes; the point where she demands that Marley leaves the house following the birth of their child is played so that the audience remains sympathetic to her character. The real eye opener was Owen Wilson (John), who is mostly seen strutting his stuff in comedies of dubious quality. Here he is given a chance to show off a greater range of emotions and in the end his performance means that the audience will be right there, emotionally gutted, with his character when he has to make the ultimate discussion about his dog’s fate.

The disc does contain some extras. First up we have deleted and extended scenes with optional directors commentary: Boca House (2 min, 16 sec); Animal Rescue - Extended Version (2 min); Pick up PUP (47 sec); This is our Home - Pee Lesson (2 min, 06 sec) Ate the Tire (58 sec); Fixing Marley - Extended Version (1 min 21 sec); Estefan Interview - Extended Version (3 min, 50 sec); I’m Pregnant - Extended Version (2 min, 08 sec) Poop Try (24 sec); Awkward Irish AM (1 min, 28 sec); To The Hospital (29 sec); Hero Marley (1 min, 57 sec); Goodbye Lisa (1 min, 42 sec); Crying Baby (1 min, 59 sec); Angry Neighbour (34 sec); Meet Billy Cole (26 sec); Marley Comes Home (37 sec); and Marley’s Spot (1 min 03 sec). The majority of the cut material involved domestic scenes which would have added little to the finished film.

Next up is a series of featurette’s which include contributions from the main cast and director. Finding Marley (7 min, 48 sec) which look s at how the film used twenty-two dogs to play Marley and introduces some of the real dogs. Breaking the Golden Rule (8 min, 02 sec) looks at the problems in acting with and directing animals; as does On Set with Marley: Dog of all Trades (2 min, 36 sec) which is a light-hearted piece with a fake interview with the dog. Animal Adoption (5 min, 19 sec) looks at the serious side of adopting a dog. There is an amusing, if not outright funny Gag Reel (5 min, 40 sec) and lastly we have When not to Pee (2 min, 17 sec) has the lead dog misbehaving on set.

The disc comes with a good set of audio options to choose from, either English or German for the main track as well as an English descriptive track and subtitles for the hard of hearing, in either English, Danish, German, Suomi, Norwegian or Swedish. Sadly there is no commentary for the film. The film is presented with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Okay, so the film isn’t a deep and meaningful experience, but neither is it a bit of fluffy nonsense. The extras are not as extensive as they could have been, the inclusion of a piece by the real John Grogan would have been desirable, still it’s a good if not deep selection.


Charles Packer

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