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. Thanks Vic..Now I completely have no interest..

  2. Thanx Vic now I know not too bring my six year old cousin to this movie. Im suprised that they actually gace it a PG rating with all that stuff, holleywood really is a stickler about that kind of stuff.

  3. Funny thing, the hospital scene was filmed at the hospital I work for, which is in Florida. I have no clue where the film actually takes places, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t Florida, but for some reason the hospital scene was filmed here… I remember when they were here, I had to kick out paparazzi left and right… Well, I guess it’s probably because our hospital looks like a hotel, lol.

    I’m sure you’ll recognize that entrance, it’s the part they show in the trailer of her being wheeled out in the wheel chair, it was right out that door.

    I know they wanted to film in the ER, but obviously we cannot clear out our ER for filming, so they had to do their ER scene in our OR, which wasn’t empty either, they kept half of it empty for filming, the other half had real patients.

    But I think the maternity ward scenes were really shot up in our maternity ward. I would wait for someone to rent it just to watch it for those scenes, but I will never pay to watch this movie… I laughed when I learned what the movie was about. A romantic comedy… about a DOG… YAY…

  4. Such meaningless crap,,, I can’t believe anyone would take the time and money to see this junk…

    Happy holidays!

  5. Holly crap Ken you live in Florida,,?

    That explains a lot. Lol,,, ;-)

  6. I am an avid reader of King, Higgins-Clark, Hoag, etc… So this book was a new twist for me. I read the book about 3 years ago. I read it in about 2 days. It was wonderful. I love all animals. My father was a DVM. I grew up with every animal that you can think of. This book is very truthful. How can you not like Marley when he conforts John’s wife when she loses the baby. A dog is a true giver of love. There are many dogs out there just like Marley. My black lab was terrified of Thunderstorms. She would freak out right before it hit. She was better then the weathermen. A dog is like a child for about the first 2 years. I have had dogs eat baskets, gear shifters (in my car) vacums, shoes, door frames, couchlegs and various other items. Did I scold my dog-YES- but I still loved him and he was a part of the family. Some people feel more strongly about animals. Would you get rid of you kid if he/she was doing crazy things like writing on the walls and throwing dirty diapers in the fish tank(friend of mine’s son)? No you do the best you can and love him/her for what he/she is.

  7. Yah 790, and where do you live? The west coast? I’ll refrain from commenting on that so I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, lol.

  8. Lol; yeah I have zero defense as I live in LA.

  9. @jackie

    Typical comment from someone who is not a parent. And no, being a friend of a parent or even being an aunt/uncle is NOT the same. What a ludicrous analogy, I mean really.

    I’m actually betting the book was far better than the film – to me the film didn’t demonstrate WHY the love for this furry terrorist. I’ll bet the book demonstrated more of that than the film – something that was severly lacking in my opinion.


  10. LOL @ Vic, furry terrorist :-D

    I don’t know about you but Jackie is a better person than I am. If I had a dog that somehow ate my shifter in my car, he/she will be living in the streets before that day’s over guaranteed, lol.

    My friend is one of those people who spoil the crap out of her dog, she refuses to hit the dog, like she thinks it will hurt her or something, please, they are tougher than we are… So that dog doesn’t listen to her at all, my friend just says “No!” whenever it does something wrong, but since she doesn’t follow it up with any kind of punishment, how is the dog to know what “No!” means?? So she just ignores her. Well, when my friend is out of the room and that dog does something bad, I smack her. Now that dog behaves whenever I’m even around. I don’t even need to say anything, but the second I’m out of the room, it’s back to ignoring my friend’s yelling no…

    Oh, and Jackie, you know how your dog knows about storms right? Go buy a barometer and you can do it yourself. :-P

  11. You know, I have a general rule about movies—no live action movies about DOGS! No Benji, no Snow Dogs, no Beethoven, etc. I didn’t see Hooch until I accidently caught it on television 15 years later, and even then…not so great. Generally, dog movies kind of suck. Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs, I have three, but a movie about them. Hm. I don’t even home video them. Who would care, right?

  12. If you’ve read the book, you would know that it’s not for kids. It’s based on a book with sexual content, language, etc. While I don’t think it should be rated PG, I am still excited to see this film. While you talked about the dog doing only reckless things in the movie, it is the same as in the book. The book isn’t a reckless dog comedy…it’s really about a family growing closer thanks to the dog. I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I am actually grateful for your review. I was scared the movie would be kiddied down too much so it would be another Beethoven or Air Bud. I am glad it keeps its language, etc.

  13. I think it would have been appropriate for you to read the book before writing this review. The book is an endearing look into the life of a young couple as they go through all of the trials and tribulations of life. Their dog provides years of laughter and comfort and is alongside them as their lives change through kids, moving, etc. Better yet is that it is a true account. You can see that the book is filled with personal memories and sentiment. I have not yet seen the movie and plan to see it today. I assume it will not be as good as the book, but I happen to like the crazy dog in the book and am looking forward to seeing how he is portrayed in the movie. You cannot call yourself a dog lover and say some of the things you said. I have a dog that makes me laugh and makes me cry much like Marley, and he may not always be good but he has taught me unconditional love which is what this book and movie is about.

  14. Oh yes, and if you were expecting the movie to be a movie about a dog that has some heroic qualities, why do you think it is called “Marley and Me, Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog”? It doesn’t say the “World’s Best Dog”.

  15. Oh no, you’ve done it now Vic, you’ve said something bad about something to do with a dog. Prepare to be flamed… LOL

  16. I got a dog. I may very well name my next one damnit. That way, I won’t be cussing when i tell it to get out of the kitchen!

    But it’s nice to know I can continue to boycott all things, ginchy coy shy cute Aniston.

  17. So Ash, Vic should read the book before reviewing the film?

    Are you serious!

  18. You are the reason I have to do dog rescue – you would get rid of a dog because it kept your baby up? You have just as much responsibility to the dog you brought into your house as you do the baby, yet you would get the dog “gone.”

    My lab rescue is needed because of jerks like you, who thing a dog is disposable.

    lab Rescue, ny

  19. It’s Christmas day. Just took my grown daughter to see Marley and me for something fun to do on Christmas. She is an avid dog and animal lover, and was really looking forward to this. It was a horrible experience watching the graphic showing of the dog’s decline and death. Anyone who has had to put down an animal could not possibly find this entertaining. I cried through the last ten or fifteen minutes of the movie and she almost had to get up and leave before it was done. What an awful movie on Christmas. The previews gave no clue to how negative this would end. I saw many children being brought in for what their parents obviously thought was going to be a “fun” movie. Sure, their bad, but the previews are soooo misleading.

  20. I haven’t seen the movie yet, it doesn’t come out for another week on my side of the world. But I’ve read the book, it was awesome and amazing and if you own (or have owned) a dog you know all about it; the good and the not so good. For all that is Marley, and being ‘the worst dog in the world, you know exactly how the family feels. Our dog chewed his way through early life, also watched over my kid as a baby, and they’re the best of mates now. And when Marley starts having trouble getting up stairs and not making it out the door on time you know exactly what’s coming; harry, my dog is going through the same. Through the first part of the book I laughed so hard it hurt and I had a hard time keeping a drye eye through the last chapters of the book. I hope the movie is just as great as the book.
    And to that person (Vic) who thinks the analogy with kids is ludicrous; it’s often people who have never had a pet who don’t have a clue. I’m with Nancy of the Lab Rescue; a dog/kid is for life and anyone who thinks they came beat a dog/kid or leave/give it away should be locked up.


  21. Piece of advice to movie goers you can usually get your money back or credit to another movie if you walk out 15 min before the film ends.

    Anyone else find the Dog in the marketing posters looks enhanced and airbrushed to look sad…
    Who falls for this crap ???

  22. I decided this year it would be fun and different to treat my teenage children to a movie on Christmas Day. The trailer was entertaining and my family and I love dogs. I laughed 3/4 of the movie. Never, in my dreams did I think that the last part of the movie would be so graphic in the demise of poor Marley. After all they introduced the aging of the dog and started to lay down the ground work of the dog unable to make the steps or play like he used to. I never thought that they would show the actual “putting down” process. All they had to say was “We lost Marley later that year” We can figure out that the dog died. We didn’t need to see the depressing end. My children and I were hysterical crying. Nice Christmas memory.

  23. The movie was created from a book, and they left little out, including the sad but true ending. For dog owners this is life and the sad reality. Read the book, it will give you a better understanding of the movie.I also think its terrible that a movie would ruin your Christmas memories. It is going to be sad, it is based on real life, not Hollywood, and it is filled with love and life lessons.

  24. Love and life lessions ??? I hate those! :-)

  25. I agree that this movie is filled with life lessons. I omitted the fact that we are adopters of rescue dogs and have in the past, put down many dogs that lived with us for 15 years. I’ve spent many nights giving sub-q injections to dogs whose kidneys failed. I’ve stayed with many of my dogs while they took their last breath. We’ve also spent many a night cleaning up after an unruly puppy. We as a family, remember these moments.. I/we didn’t want to relive them at the movies. We just wanted to laugh and experience the fun of the puppy. Yes, what is young, must grow old…but it didn’t have to be that graphic.

  26. Ken,

    You never hit an animal. They respond to a firm voice and calm leadership. Trust me on this one. I’ve had people who work with Cesar Milan come to my home and work with me. It’s not the dog that’s out of control…it’s the owner.

  27. Yes theresa, as my friend’s dog proves by listening to her firm voice… Good theory, too bad I’ve seen the proof in practice on many times over. Everyone else I knew with the same theory as you, same result, the dog trashes the place and nothing they say will stop it. My friends who disciplines the dog while using the firm voice, after that initial disciplining, the firm voice alone works. Dogs learn by association, you have to associate the firm voice with something they don’t like. They are not born knowing what a “firm” voice means. But hey, whatever floats your boat, you want to pay money and train a dog, fine, I smack the dog while giving a firm voice and it’s trained, for free, after a day. I guess I don’t like wasting my money. But you’re not wasting my money or my friends’ money, so I don’t really care. :-)

    And did some chick named nancy just say that you have just as much responsibility toward a DOG as your BABY??? That’s a human baby she just compared to a dog right??? LMAO. Ok… you guys are fanatical about dogs. It’s pretty sad.

  28. While I haven’t yet seen the movie, I’m assuming by the reviews I’ve read that it’s not as good as the book. They never are, are they? If you’d read the book, you’d know that the book was very insightful and heart-warming. I don’t like the way this movie is being marketed as a “kid’s movie”. The book really was not. It was a book about a couple, coming into their own, and they happened to have a dog who helped to teach them a few things about life. I’m a huge dog lover. In college, I got a black lab. For a very long time, it was just me and the dog. When you’re in a situation like that, you can become very attached. Some people just simply don’t understand that, which I think John Grogan conveyed very well in his movie-loving a dog like a real member of the family. I hope the movie isn’t as dissapointing as you’ve made it out to be. I’m still going to see it, of course, but I plan on trying to deter the little ones. The book was meant for adults, and obviously, it’s sad.

  29. What a disappoinment. I loved the book. Take out half an hour of making/having babies and complaining about jobs, let’s see more of the dog, give it a happy ending (a new puppy maybe?) instead of leaving us with 3 crying kids throwing letters into a grave. Nice touch wrapping him in a blanket “to keep him warm” (???). Did we really need to see the vet giving the injection of death and watching the dog closing it’s eyes for the last time?
    My daughter is 14 and was depressed for the rest of the day. Don’t take your little kids.