The Boat That Rocked

A film of two halves: one spent waiting to laugh, the other not laughing.

Monsters vs Aliens

Monsters! Aliens! Monsters! Awesome.

A Monster Smash

The ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny? You bet it is!


It's a load of old hooey, but Knowing carries its concept with conviction; gripping and portentous, it's a baptism by fire for dubious cinemagoers.

I'm Brian and So's Me Wife!

Michael Sheen - Britain's most prolific fraudster. Is your identity safe?

The Damned United

Another character-driven masterpiece from Morgan and Michael. Damned good.


A fun, romantic, old-school caper. They caper here, they caper there. Sometimes, they caper so much their clothes fall off.

Lesbian Vampire Killers

Comedy sound effects and a sword shaped like a thingy? This is a textbook example of polishing a turd.

Marley and Me

Marley and Me's saccharine story is low on laughs and high on sugar. Bring a vat of tissues. And some insulin.


Zack "the visionary director of 300" Snyder's epic achievement is an awe-inspiring spectacle...

The Young Victoria

Glossy and gorgeous, Britain's longest-serving monarch makes for a winning romance. God save the Queen. And all that.

Gran Torino

Eastwood's star performance rescues this cliched script: forget Dirty Harry, this is racist Clint. And he's milking it for every last drop.


An energetic debut from a British director, Hush is a thrilling tale of cars, girls and posters that go up in toilets. Gripping stuff.


Cute and lively, but lacking Pixar's spark: this is The Truman Show for the High School Musical generation.


Which vampire would you want living next door?

Login Form

Spread the Word

Home Reviews Cinema Marley and Me
Marley and Me Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 10:31
Director: David Frankel
Cast: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston
Certificate: PG

"Leg-humping is a virus," warns a frizzy-follicled dog trainer with all the solemnity she can muster. Owen Wilson flashes a laid-back smile. "He normally only does it to poodles." This is Marley and Me, a dog flick that's low on laughs and high on sugar. Not the good kind of sweet stuff - this is the cloggy, saccharine stuff that kills.

Marley is one of those dogs. Not just a labrador, but a naughty one. The "world's worst dog", if you believe the movie's marketing or his owners, John (Wilson) and Jennifer (Aniston) Grogan. If Marley were to, say, viciously attack a child and ferociously gnaw upon its exo-skeleton, he would qualify for that description. Or, if he assembled a giant laser device upon a local landmark, threatening to up-end municipal peace without his extra portion of kibble, you'd be tempted to apply such a moniker. He doesn't do either.

What does Marley do that's so disastrously awful? Well, he knocks over a few tables and dislikes noisy weather. Aww, poor misunderstood Marley. But wait! It turns out that John and Jenny didn't really mean it. They were just tired and stressed. They love Marley. In fact, he's probably the best dog in whole wide world. Aww, good old Marley.

See how the movie works its little emotional trick? If you started to well up two sentences ago, you've no hope at all. Bring a vat of tissues. And some insulin.

Holding a household together with his antics, Marley is the foundation of the Grogan family. John, a journalist-turned-columnist, struggles to find things to wax lyrical about. Then the solution wags its tail in his face: Marley. Success soon comes running to John, whose everyday anecdotes entertain the masses (and his crusty editor, Alan Arkin). Jen is also a journalist, but she sacrifices her career for babies and dog-sitting. As the tension builds and the bickering starts, you sit there thinking: "I thought this was supposed to be a comedy?"

No, Marley and Me is one of those life-affirming dog films, which shows you how man's best friend can lead said man through his wayward life and out the other side, all the better for his canine companion. It's not a new story by far, but John Grogan's memoirs sold well, so it's no wonder they adapted them into a film. He's probably got one hundred and one dogs now. All made out of solid gold.

Wilson and Aniston make for a watchable couple - he's all chilled-out and charming, she's demonstrating her acting by playing someone with the same first name - and credit to Clyde and Jonah, the two dogs who make Marley a likeable mutt. But although it's meant to ring true, the bells are all too often drowned out by the schmaltzy soundtrack and heavy-handed use of home videos. By the inevitable end (two diabetics were carried out on stretchers), any genuine emotion has long gone walkies. Want to know the joy a mutt can bring to your life? Don't watch this; get a dog. 


"You can have lambie if you promise not to chew its other ear off," says a weepy child to her sick dog. "I'll have it," ventures Owen Wilson, planning to have a comfort chew later. This isn't just a sad day for him; it's a disappointment for dog-lovers everywhere.


Add your comment

Your name:
Your website:
  The word for verification. Lowercase letters only with no spaces.
Word verification: