Marley & Me

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Marley & Me
With its child-friendly rating and top billing for an unruly golden Labrador, ‘Marley & Me’ leads one to expect a straightforward saga of man’s best friend. But this film is a more complicated animal. Although it hardly stints on Marley’s mischief-making appetite for frolicking naughtiness and chomping on just about anything he can get between his incisors, it’s mostly a bittersweet portrait of a couple settling down to family life and feeling like they’ve sold out on their youthful ambitions.

Owen Wilson (carrying his own baggage of off-screen melancholia) plays the real-life Miami journo whose series of popular columns on life with a four-legged miscreant got the ball rolling. Meanwhile, Jennifer Aniston is a sympathetic match as the reporter girlfriend-turned-spouse who leaves work to raise their kids after juggling both proves a nightmare.

With its peachy star casting and impeccably art-directed lifestyles, the latest from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ director David Frankel is too glossy to cut very deep, but there’s a core of truth as we see a family coming to shape itself around the loveable pooch they initially bought as a child substitute, all the while squaring up career sacrifices against the restorative recompense of domesticity.

Marley himself (played by 22 different dogs, don’t you know!) frequently takes a back seat when work and childcare issues dominate the proceedings, but he looms large in a final reel that draws tears, and feels like it’s earned them. Evidently contrived and something of an ungainly hybrid, the film shares its canine protagonist’s facility for wearing down your resistance.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday March 13 2009
Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: David Frankel
Screenwriter: Scott Frank, Don Roos
Cast: Jennifer Aniston
Owen Wilson
Kathleen Turner
Alan Arkin
Eric Dane
Nathan Gamble
Haley Bennett