Published Dec 23, 2008More amusing than the marketing of an ideological tragedy as a comedy is the idea that Marley & Me is just about a dog becoming part of a family, for the film is not really about a dog at all. Rather it is about the pain of letting go of perceived dreams and freedoms during an inevitable and simultaneous moment of defeatism and maturation that comes with a shift in priorities and an entirely different worldview when life takes us in directions that we didn't intend, which sadly is something that one needs to experience to understand. Said simply, this film is depressing, uncomfortable, shockingly insightful and strangely beautiful despite its flaws.
Following the marriage of up-and-coming journalists Jennifer (Jennifer Aniston) and John Grogan (Owen Wilson), the pair move themselves to sunny Florida with plans to start the perfect life, which initially involves the acquisition of the free-spirited, problematic Golden Retriever, Marley.
Like most relationships, the pair experience the joy of togetherness and a world of possibility, which is unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on perspective, uprooted by the harshness of reality when they both find their dreams fading away and the weight of life's obligations taking over.
Marley & Me is a strange blend, shifting tonality based on the nature and evolution of a typical relationship while taking risks with extended takes and oddly placed montages to represent the passing of time. For some, these artistic liberties will add fuel to the fire, providing additional ammunition to rebuke this occasionally contrived but entirely astute reflection on the nature of assimilation, while others will feel a connection with the honesty displayed and respect the lack of fear in communicating a complex point with necessary, but redeeming, faults.
As a simultaneously devastating and heart-warming look at both the beauty and the many challenges that life presents, along with the pain and catharsis of closing the door on a dream never fulfilled, Marley is touching and true, and unfortunately, the sort of thing that most people will either dismiss or attack. (Fox)