Marley and Me Review

Published 6 years ago by , Updated January 6th, 2009 at 1:23 pm,

Short version: If your idea of a PG family movie includes sexual references, an annoying dog and bad language, by all means go see Marley & Me.

marley and me review Marley and Me Review
Screen Rant reviews Marley & Me

Let’s just get right to it, shall we? I don’t know… maybe I’m getting grumpy in my old age, but I just didn’t see the appeal of Marley & Me. I went into the theater wanting to like this movie, I really did. While I’m a huge sci-fi and superhero movie fan, I’m always happy to see a movie out there that parents can bring their kids to – so it bugs me when I can’t give that sort of film an endorsement.

Let me say that while I realize this film is based on a book, I know nothing about the source material other than it’s an autobiographical book by John Grogan about a dog he really owned.

Marley & Me stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston as young married couple John and Jennifer Grogan. She has her entire life planned out, complete with a checklist of things to accomplish… BIG things, like “get married,” “buy a house,” etc. You get the picture.

John is happy to abide by her wishes since from his point of view he “married up,” snagging a babe way beyond who he thought he’d end up with – until he starts thinking about the next checklist item: children. His single-for-life best friend Sebastian (Eric Dane) tells John he needs to give Jennifer a dog. It will feed her maternal instincts for a while and delay her feeling the need for a child.

John has just been hired at a Florida newspaper as a fledgling reporter, wanting to work his way up and Jennifer also has a job as a journalist. He wants to make his mark and is not eager to start a family at this point.

So John surprises Jennifer by taking her to a dog breeder and they end up picking the runt of the litter. Jennifer is a writer and is on assignment while John picks up the adorable little fella. It turns out that the little guy is extremely insecure when left alone and he ends up destroying the contents of the garage.

This is just the beginning – the dog (named after Bob Marley) is incorrigible, and his owners are not up to the job of disciplining him. Eventually Jennifer gets pregnant, and next thing you know she and John are parents of more than one child. Their relationship starts to strain and the dog is not helping by constantly destroying things in the house and barking, keeping the baby from sleeping.

Eventually John is corralled into becoming a columnist for the newspaper where he works (he wants to be an investigative reporter) and he ends up writing quite a bit about his misadventures with Marley. John and Jennifer come to an understanding eventually and life changes for them in a good way.

This all sounds just peachy-keen, so what’s my problem with the film? Beyond the cute little face when it was a puppy, I never liked the stupid dog.

Now I’m a dog person – I love dogs. I have a dog. But shouldn’t a dog that’s the star of a movie have SOME redeeming qualities that make you care about it or want to take its side? I’ve read elsewhere that if you own a dog you’ll appreciate this movie. Yeah, right. There’s a scene where they try to take the dog to a trainer and it’s so out of control (and they, so inept) that the trainer (Kathleen Turner) throws them out of class. They think the whole thing is funny.

I’m watching this film thinking they need to call that guy “The Dog Whisperer” to teach them how to control the darned dog. If I had an infant in the house and the dog was such a pain in the butt that the baby couldn’t sleep, I’m sorry but it would be gone.

I mean during the entire movie I’ll bet if you combined all the time that the dog was actually shown to be doing something that endeared it to the audience, it would total MAYBE two minutes. I kept waiting for something to happen that would make me care about the dog – hell, I thought maybe it would get shot by a burglar, having alerted and saved the family. But no – nothing like that. It’s just an incorrigible dog owned by a couple too weak or lazy to discipline it. Heck, they painted such a bad picture of Marley at one point I was in fear that it was going to hurt one of the babies in the film.

Beyond that, sexual references to the dog “losing its balls,” the beginnings of a sex scene (sure, they’re fully clothed, but my daughter next to me was visibly uncomfortable), an obvious skinny dipping scene (again nothing shown, sorry guys, but a couple skinny dipping in a PG movie?) and a number of “B-level” curse words don’t exactly add up to a movie I’d recommend to my friends with children.

For me the best thing in the movie was Alan Arkin – the man is hysterical and I only wish he had more screen time. Really, this felt like a Lifetime Channel TV movie… some day I’d love to see Jennifer Aniston in something really GOOD.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

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104 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. It would seem that Jennifer Aniston continues to give Brad Pitt a run for his money…

  2. ho ho ho and a bottle of rum! OMG who are you? my name is santa claus…..umm why are you santa claus….well because i bring joy and fun and hope to everyone around me…whats your name oustide santa claus…..well ho ho ho you silly goose…my name is MARLEY! Marley? yes! JUST AS I said…wow you are named after a very wonderful dog..and a movie! wow! man i wish i was as wonderful aS the movie MARLEY and ME!

  3. @ lola:

    Did someone say RUM? *smirk*

  4. I wondered what others thought abt the ending of Marley and Me so I set out to read reviews on the internet. Your site reviews nailed it on the head. Like many, my husband and I took our 21 and 14 yr old to the movies tonight. We thought the movie was going to be your fun-loving cutsey movie abt a silly dog etc. I didn’t know there was a book and it wouldn’t have mattered as I don’t usually read this kind of story etc. In any case, I agree the ending is highgly inappropriate for young children and those of us with a heart and those of us with older dogs who may need to be put down soon etc. All for of us cried and cried the last 15 min. We were one of hte last to exit the theatre expect for a man and his young daughter. The little child was crying hysterically and uncontrollably as he was trying to explain this to her. I am understsanding of the value a dog brings to a family….VERY understanding and completely love my dog. However, the movie previews did not give ANY indication of it’s ending etc. I do feel a notice to parents needs to be included. I surely believe in telling my children abt the circle of life etc. I just don’t feel it begins in a supposed fun-loving movie abt a great, cute doggy……thanks for your time and space.

  5. WARNING: this movie’s rating should be PG 13.
    You don’t need to have a PHD in Developmental Psychology to know that children who just received their Christmas gifts from Santa are not at the age to be exposed to a heavily sexually charged movie as Marley and Me.
    $hame on you MPAA

  6. i was very disappointed with this movie. we took my 8 and 4 year old to see if and people were leaving the movie throughout different parts. i cant believe it was advertised as a great family movie- it was far from that. My daughter was the only one that knew what happened at the end, but it was still way to upsetting for her. many of those scenes could have been left out.

  7. Okay so my husband and I took my 7 year old daughter to see Marley and Me this evening….after seeing previews, I, like many others thought that this was a family-movie…I even checked the rating before we left the house…I only wish I would have checked this site or reviews as well.

    I must say I realized about 1/4 of the way through the movie that this was NOT intended for small children. The sexual content-considering a pg rating…was innapropriate. My child kept blurting out “BAD WORD” everytime they mentioned sex or any other profanity…
    I contemplated leaving but kept thinking…this is PG, how bad can it get? Boy was I in for a shock!

    The dog who my daughter thought was so cute and funny…was euthanized in the last few minutes!? Wow, I didnt see that coming! I thought they’d end before the dog died, or at least not have to see it, all the while going through the emotional rollercoaster of watching the dog die slowly…surrounded by sobbing strangers, and a dissapointed and sad 7 year old…

    On the ride home, I had to answer numerous questions about why, what happened, what was in the shot marley got, whyd they kill her etc…
    Then upon arriving home…the questions continued, now, about when her dog is going to die, how old he is, how much longer he has, and where will he die…where will he be burried, what if we move…and then on to the cat…
    lovely, just lovely…

  8. Oh Boy. Please tell me. Can I handle seeing this? I read the book and cried and cried and cried for what seems like an hour. I had a horrible time dealing with putting my 13-year-old golden about 7 years ago. I had no idea how horrifying it would be I was 38 or so at the time, and my dog (Tapper) sustained me through my divorce, losing a job, moving, all while taking care of a baby. My parents came to the vet with me, as did my then 7-year old daughter. They heard me absolutely wailing with unbearable grief from the waiting area. They’ve all seen the movie, and have told me I must not go because they all think it will be too much for me. I would really like to see it, but now I’m afraid. Any opinions on this would be appreciated.

  9. This is not for children I totally agree with Vic. Just say something like “we lost marley later that year”. Like others said this should be pg-13 and the previews were misleading.

  10. When the movie goes to dvd they will probably show the alternate ending. I still can’t believe how they ruined a wonderful movie.

    The movie is still on top; being billed as a “feel good movie,” what a let down. Kids and kids at heart do not need to see this ending….most of us have went through losing wonderful pets, that were our friends for many, many years. Should be a documentary, if that’s what they wanted to show.

    The very least; quit advertising it like we wil be rolling on the floor with glee………….

  11. This is the worst reveiw I have ever read. Clearly – the writer is NOT a dog person. Dogs will mis-behave. But you love them anyway because they love you.
    If you weren’t touched by this movie – you have ice in your veins.
    ANd the “sex scene” you mention…
    are you KIDDING?
    The “cuss words”??
    And the revealing “skinny dipping” scene…
    for crying out loud! I honestly thought perhaps you were joking for a moment.
    You sir – should probably not be a dog owner – especially since you admitted so freely that the dog “would be gone”. it means you are not in it for the long haul. If I were a humane society – I would not let you adopt a dog, if that is your attitude.
    A pet is supposed to enrich our lives…and we inturn – are supposed to enrich theirs.
    They do not have a duty to “obey everything we say” – they are sentient beings. Not teddy bears.
    A negative review is one thing – but yours is so steeped in negativity and unhappiness – I sincerely hope you a) Do not have a dog and b) Go seek some counselling!

  12. If you people are so concerned and were so emotionally disturbed by the “graphic and horrendous” material this EXPLICIT film showed – perhaps you need to do a little research – or just rent movies that are approved by the Christian-Right!
    My lord! What a bunch of hoopla over nothing! You’d think you saw a full on sex scene and Rodney Dangerfield was telling profanity laiden jokes through the entire movie. The book was about the life cycle of a dog – and how even though it was “the worst dog in the world” – his death left a HUGE mark on the family. Do your research! Don’t take your kids blindly to films you know nothing about and then complain about it!
    All you complainers – do you always take your children to a movie you know NOTHING about?? especially if you are so sensitive that THIS movie offended them?? Geesh! Heaven help them – because I reckon they hear a lot more than the “bad words” this movie offers in the playground – perhaps from their own parents! Grow up! Or do some research if you think a movie like “Marley and Me” is going to scar your children for life!

  13. Terrible review. The movie made me cry, which means it instilled some emotion in me. It means I “believed” the characters. That means – it’s a well done film. Everyone talking about how they “cried” and how it was such a “terribly done” film. If you cried – mission accomplished. You were supposed to.
    This review is an example of a poorly written piece based on nothing but conservative moral values and lack of preparation.
    Before writing a review, try to learn a little something about what you are writing about – and work it in with context.
    If there was something mechanically wrong with the film (poor acting, poor scripting, disjointed editing – boring), then fine. I get it.
    But you are basing this on the fact that it came out on Christmas Day.
    So what were you expecting? Baby Jesus to make a happy cameo at the end and cure all death as we know it?
    Kids have to put pets down – and a dog’s life…it’s unfortunately far too short.
    The fact that people were “crying hysterically” means that you can all relate to what this movie portrays.
    That is the first sign of a film well-done. It instilled a PHYSICAL REACTION in you.
    Very poorly written review. I loved the book – and I loved the movie, and yes – I cried hysterically as well – as if Marley was my own dog.

  14. Dan and Ryan,

    Are you parents? DO you have children? If not then frankly your opinion is worthless in regards to the inappropriate content of this film. It was rated PG and targeted at families with young children. When you have your own kids then you can judge what is appropriate for them.

    And this review is part of “research” for a film – it was written to let people know about it.

    And Dan, yes, exactly – we own pets to “enrich our lives” and a pet that disrupts my household and my family does NOT enrich my life. And yes, dogs should be disciplined and obey their owners.

    I do have a dog and have had dogs in the past. They were always loved AND WELL BEHAVED due to my training.

    So take your sanctimonious crap elsewhere.

    I’ve had it with people that put animals at the same level as people – absolutely and unequivocally HAD it. Of COURSE animals should not be mistreated, but that doesn’t mean I or my family as to suffer or put up with an animal that:

    1. Destroys my home.
    2. Endangers my family or others.

    If people are too stupid and/or lazy to train their dogs properly, well, then they’re stupid and lazy. Ever watch an episode of “The Dog Whisperer?” Or do you think that Cesar Milan is “cruel” to dogs and that he shouldn’t be allowed near them either.

    And Steven, if your only criteria for a movie being “good” is that it makes you cry, that makes you a pretty poor judge of film.

    I’m done with this thread.