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Laramie Movie Scope:
Marley & Me

A doggone good family story

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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March 14, 2009 -- “Marley & Me” is a heartwarming tearjerker of a movie about a fairly average family who learns to love and live with “the world's worst dog.” It's funny, heartwarming and you'd have to be heartless not to cry at the end. It has a bit of “Old Yeller” in it. The story is based on a book written by John Grogan and is based on fact.

Stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston have had their problems in recent years from attempted suicide to painful breakups, but you'd never know it from their sensitive, warm, full-dimensional portrayals of a young married couple dealing with many changes in their lives. They are really convincing as two people, John and Jenny Grogan, who face their problems head on and find a way to work them out and stay together. Both of them are newspaper reporters (back in the days when newspapers had not fired most of their reporters) in Michigan. They decide to move to Florida to get away from the cold weather (like heat, humidity, bugs, alligators, snakes, hurricanes, tropical storms and floods are all that great). They both end up working at the same newspaper. They decide to get a dog, a yellow Labrador pup named Marley.

Marley turns out to be more than a handful. A 100-pound bundle of nervous energy, he eats a telephone, couches, drywall, pees on the rug and produces large amounts of poop in the back yard. He will not heel, but runs, dragging his owners along. He attacks postal carriers and other delivery people and barks at everything and everyone. But as bad as Marley is, he also comforts them when they are feeling down and he provides that one essential ingredient any good dog provides: unconditional love. Marley is always in trouble, but the family can never quite bring themselves to get rid of him. As their family grows larger and their patience wears thin, they are tempted to get rid of the dog, but they never do.

John Grogan always wanted to be a top-notch reporter for the New York Times, like his friend, Sebastian, played by Eric Dane (“X-Men: The Last Stand”). Eric stayed single and never had to make the kinds of career compromises that the Grogan's did. He took long term, dangerous overseas assignments and landed plumb journalism jobs. Jenny Grogan gave up her promising journalism career to be a full-time mother. John gave up his pursuit of high-profile reporting jobs to become a full-time columnist. Many of his columns about Marley were later incorporated into a book, which became this movie. John later grew weary of writing columns and, with Jenny's support, took a reporting job in Philadelphia. Eventually, he realizes that he is a better columnist than he is a reporter.

The story of the Grogans is very similar to millions of other families. It is a story of career choices, salary shortfalls, compromises, the needs of children, looking for a safe neighborhood and a house big enough to accommodate the needs of a growing family. This film is about growing a family. It is a very positive film, so it won't appeal to cynics, but it should appeal to just about everyone else. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2009 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)