Film review: One crazy dog makes a family

2009-03-23 00:00

In an ideal world we all would find the perfect partner who complements our character, contribute to a working environment that matches our talent and eventually acquire the white-picket-fenced house complete with the ideal dog and children.

Marley & Me is a heartwarming and hysterically funny movie about how dramatic life can be even with all the ingredients that should make it ideal.

The movie begins with newlyweds John and Jennifer Grogan (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) running through a blizzard after their car breaks down and celebrating their wedding night with a bottle of champagne in hand and feet dipped into a tub of warm bubbly water.

Jennifer asks John if a snowstorm on their wedding night is a bad omen. John replies that he feels like the luckiest man to have met such a wonderful and beautiful companion to share the rest of his life with. She shares his sentiment.

The couple are a reporter and feature writer who secure jobs at their ideal publication and find a house that they plan to turn into a home.

The next thing on Jennifer's list is to start a family that John just isn't ready for. To put her biological clock on hold, he gets her a puppy.

This is no ordinary puppy: Marley is a recalcitrant, whining, whimpering, bird-chasing, sofa munching dog who, if it wasn't for his cuteness, would have been taken back to the shelter where he came from.

But it is because of Marley's antics and inability to be trained even as he grows out of the cute puppy phase that gives John the chance to write a human interest column and get the promotion he never expected.

As Marley grows, the couple realise that they too have grown and are ready to start a family.

This movie is heartwarming because it highlights the cracks that surface in any family when work isn't as satisfying, the wife isn't as charming or the children aren't as easy to bring up as you expected when you thought life was just perfect.

Throw a far-from-ideal dog into the picture and life feels somewhat chaotic.

It makes John look back on his life and wonder how different it would have been if he were more like his single best friend Sebastian (Eric Dane) who became the reporter they always talked about.

But all that glitters is not always gold - sometimes getting through the challenges in life with a sense of humour and a family that is with you right to the very end is what makes life that much more special and worthwhile.

It is not about the money or the success but rather the farts, giggles and hair-pulling experiences that make an otherwise shallow existence that much warmer.

This heartwarming story about how a far-from-perfect labradoodle (cross between a Labrador and a poodle) becomes the most loyal and loveable companion who has been there as a best friend through all the trials and tribulations was well worth the watch despite an overbooked cinema and a few restless members in the audience.

An appearance by the fun-to-observe dog trainer Ms Kornblut (Kathleen Turner), the effortless connection between Aniston and Wilson and the cute factor of Marley makes this movie a good night out.

One thing I am concerned about is that people would leave the cinema to get their own Marley. Bad move, because when the cuteness wears off, unless you're a genuine dog lover and planning to be the best friend it deserves, rather buy a teddy bear to avoid adding to the abundance of already neglected and abandoned animals out there.

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