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Marley & Me: Two-Disc Bad Dog Edition DVD Review

Marley & Me: Two-Disc Bad Dog Edition

March 27, 2009

Director: David Frankel,
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner, Alan Arkin, Nathan Gamble,

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DVD Review

If Marley & Me (2008) taught us anything it is to never underestimate the power of a cute dog to sell a ton of movie tickets at the box office. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have some human eye candy in the form of Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson to sweeten the deal. This is a film that has “feel-good” vibe written all over it, right down to REM’s “Shiny Happy People” blasting over the opening credits sans the irony.

John and Jenny Grogan (Wilson and Aniston) are newlyweds that have recently moved to Florida. They have each gotten writing jobs at competing newspapers. For her birthday, he gets her a puppy – the cheapest one in the litter and named him Marley (after Bob Marley, natch). They don’t bother to inquire as to why he was the cheapest of the brood but they soon find out – he’s a natural born troublemaker, the untrainable dog who doesn’t take his owners for walks, he takes them on runs. Marley also chews on anything he can get his mouth on and chases anything that moves. We watch as Marley grows up to become the lovable dog from hell. John becomes a columnist and devotes much of it to his dog’s crazy exploits while Jenny gives birth to several children.

Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston have undeniable chemistry together and are a very believable couple. He brings his trademark laidback charm to the role and Aniston brings an earthy tone that anchors their characters’ relationship. However, it is not all good times for John and Jenny as Marley’s antics test their patience – even moreso once they have kids.

There are all kinds of truisms contained in Marley & Me if you’re a pet owner, like how pets have a distinctive personality all their own. They can be a handful but they also love you unconditionally. The dog is adorable, of course, but he also makes you glad that he’s not your dog because he is a holy terror. However, a word of warning for anyone who’s gone through a beloved pet growing older and all that entails, you will have a tough time watching this film. This is coming from someone with first hand experience as the twilight years of a dog’s life are depicted quite realistically.

Marley & Me is a critic-proof film in the sense that it appeals to a populist sensibility with a story that is relatable to almost anyone. It features an impossibly good-looking family (even their three kids are disgustingly adorable) with no real serious problems that can’t resolved over a well-edited montage. The film is also shamelessly emotionally manipulative but dammit it works most of the time. Let’s face it, this is escapist fare cranked out by a Hollywood studio but at the end of a tiring day in a world that is getting bleaker by the minute don’t we deserve films that allow us lose ourselves for a couple of hours?

Special Features:

There is a collection of 19 deleted scenes with optional commentary by director David Frankel. We see John and Jenny go house hunting in Boca Raton. There is more footage of them choosing to adopt Marley. Naturally, there is more of Marley’s antics as well.

“Finding Marley” takes a look at the 22 dogs used in the film. One dog in particular had the most screen time. We see how his trainer got him to do various things and it is amazing to see how well trained he is.

“On the Set with Marley: Dog of all Trades” is an “interview” with the dog that played Marley including on the set footage provided by a camera located on the pooch’s head.

“Breaking the Golden Rule” features the cast and crew talking about how Marley & Me is not a dog film per se but about the Grogan family. The cast speaks admiringly of each other and, of course, the dogs.

“Animal Adoption” champions adopting your pet from a shelter or pound. It covers some of the things to consider when you want to adopt an animal. This is one extra that everyone should see.

“Purina Dog Chow Marley & Me Video Contest Finalists” features footage of dogs doing all sorts of funny, goofy and adorable things that did not qualify for the Hall of Fame but were pretty entertaining in their own right.

“Purina Dog Chow Video Hall of Fame” features the best of the best.

Also included is the requisite “Gag Reel” with the cast blowing their lines and so on.

“When Not to Pee” shows how a spontaneous moment of dog urination was recreated and took two dogs and several takes to pull off.

Finally, there are some trailers.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 79%

Website: http://www.marleyandmemovie.com/

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