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Marley & Me (2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/31/2009

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/4/2009

When I prepare for a review, I often make little notes and while watching the movie, I will think of things which I want to write in the review. Unfortunately, no matter how well I plan, once those writing juices start flowing, I often forget things. So, for this review of Marley & Me, I've got to get this out before I forget: This is not a family film. No matter what you've heard, despite the fact that the Blu-ray Disc has trailers for other family films, ignoring the fact that your kids think that the puppy is so cute -- this is not a family film! Kids won't care about most of the story and forget the emotional ending, you want to crawl to the nearest exit when the two sex scenes occur. You have been warned.

Marley & Me introduces us to newlyweds John (Owen Wilson) and Jennifer Grogan (Jennifer Aniston). They leave Michigan and move to south Florida, where they both get jobs at newspapers. One day, John surprises Jennifer with a Labrador Retriever puppy, which they name Marley. They soon learn that Labs grow very quickly and Marley is an especially energetic and destructive dog. While Jennifer excels at her job, John feels that he doesn't get the respect that her deserves as a reporter. When he's offered a position as a columnist, he reluctantly takes it, and soon realizes that readers respond to his stories about Marley. Soon, John and Jennifer have children, but even as their family grows, and their careers go in different directions, Marley remains in integral part of their lives.

For years, I had seen the Marley & Me book in stores and I assumed that the story was about a dog. Then, I saw the trailer for the movie, and I assumed that the story was about a dog. Now, that I've seen the movie, I know that the story is not about a dog. Marley & Me is essentially the biography of John and Jennifer Grogan -- a couple who just happen to own a dog. There are a few scenes which focus on the dog, but these are few and far between.

So, what we get is a very mundane story about a rather mundane couple...who are incredibly annoying. The movie wants to present the Grogans as a very average family who have normal problems. They deal with crying babies and wanting to live in a safe neighborhood and finding the right job, etc. But, the problem is that Marley & Me is one of those movies which shows that Hollywood doesn't understand how the average American family lives. We sit and watch this couple (played by two attractive actors) live in sunny Florida, working the jobs that they've always wanted, vacationing in Europe, and then eventually having even more success. While all of this is happening, they complain about how unhappy they are, especially Jennifer who gets to stay at home with her kids, something that millions of working moms would love to do. This makes the Grogans incredibly unlikable, and their whining only escalates as the story progresses.

Then, we have Marley, who is conveniently labeled as "The World's Worst Dog". (According to my cat, Griffin, all dogs are bad.) Again, Marley isn't the star of this film. He shows up in key scenes, typically when he bad behavior is going to add to the stress which John and Jennifer are feeling. He wanders through, destroys something, somebody yells, and then he moves on. I felt as if I was watching a Jaws movie, but there was a big yellow dog wreaking havoc instead of a shark. Sure, the ending is emotional, but this has more to do with the Grogan children rather than the dog. Rarely has a movie misrepresented itself so.

So, the question arises; at whom is Marley & Me is aimed? (A better question is how did they get the respected Scott Frank and Don Roos to write the script for this.) It's certainly not for kids. Most audiences will be bored (and possibly offended) by the Grogan's story. And dog lovers would do better to go find a real dog than to sit through this. There's a scene in the film where Marley poops in the ocean. I feel as if the filmmakers did the same thing with this movie.

Marley & Me eats anything and everything on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good, most notably reds and yellows. The picture shows a nice amount of detail and very good depth in certain shots. The image is never overly dark or bright. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and nicely detailed. The track doesn't contain any truly dynamic surround sound or subwoofer effects, but there are some key scenes, such as those on the beach, where we get some modest rear-speaker effects.

The Marley & Me Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. The Disc contains 19 DELETED SCENES which run about 26 minutes. Many of these are simply extended versions of scenes from the finished film. I can't imagine why they cut out the scene with Owen Wilson peeing in the yard. I can imagine why they cut out the scene with Gloria Estefan. Many of these scenes are brief and incidental. The irony is that there are many extra Marley moments here, something which seemed to be missing from the movie. "Finding Marley" (8 minutes) profiles the dog trainers on the film, and shows how they trained the various dogs which portrayed Marley. "Breaking the Golden Rule" (8 minutes) is sort of a making-of featurette where the actors and Director David Frankel discuss the film, but it mostly focuses on what it was like to work with the dogs. "On Set with Marley: Dog of All Trades" (3 minutes) is a fake interview with "Marley". "Animal Adoption" (5 minutes) is a little public service message which discusses the importance of animal rescues and the consideration which one must put into that decision. The Disc contains a 6-minute GAG REEL. "When Not to Pee" (2 minutes) miscue showing one of the dogs peeing during a scene. "Dog Training Trivia Track" is a Picture-in-Picture feature where the viewer can see bonus material while watching the film. The 12 segments can also be watched individually.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long