Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Marley & Me

Anyone who has ever loved a pet cannot help but be moved by Marley and Me. The plot isn't as simple as "bad dog, attractive owners;" it's a story of how, in every pet owner's life, the animal of the house becomes woven into the family's history. Or, perhaps, the other way around.

But I didn't really like it.

John Grogan's novel is tragic, hilarious and triumphant and reads at a perfect pace. David Frankel's film is mildly funny, somewhat touching and heartbreaking for five minutes. Tears streamed down the faces of nearly everyone in the theater, including the macho date to my left.

But I felt sorry for those who hadn't read the book.

Pivotal scenes flew by faster than Marley chasing a mango. The first tragic event of the plot (a plot based on a real-life family, mind you) was set up with very little back story, given no time to breathe, and was over with little more than an "Aw that's kinda sad."

Some of the film's funniest moments received more anticipatory laughter from book lovers who knew what was coming than from the actual on-screen antics.

I loved Jennifer Aniston in the role of Jenny, the carefree writer-turned mother of three. I actually appreciated Owen Wilson in the role of John as well. The writing for their characters, however, left much to be desired. How can Aniston really portray post-partum depression when she doesn't have more than 30 seconds to drop into it then snap out of it? Why not trust Wilson with a more substantial character than a flaky 30-something who can't make up his mind and doesn't change his shaggy hair over a 12-year period? Alan Arkin, on the other hand, was incredible. His newspaper editor character doesn't even exist in the book, but serves as the perfect hands-off, lukewarm-hearted sounding board for Wilson's puppy dog whimpering.

Don't even get me started on the random "eternal bachelor" character or the (...yawn...) kids.

Marley and Me has its cute and magical moments. Go see it, enjoy it, then go home and snuggle up with your best friend and read the book. You'll like it so much more.

Some articles I found interesting: