88. Marley & Me (B-)
Marley & Me
-- My girlfriend really wants a dog, but that's not going to happen until our living situation changes. Since that might be a while, she'll have to settle for puppy movies. That wasn't nearly the chore that I thought it would be, at least in this case. Oh, make no mistake, this movie has a couple of big problems (I'll get to that in a moment), but it also has a number of instances of surprising honesty, and a pair of leading comic performers (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) that are quite good. Plus, the dog, as you might expect from this sort of thing, is adorable.
There are two major flaws to the movie, though. Aniston's character succeeds because of her performance alone; the movie is based on the husband's real memoir, and it often sidelines the wife in favor of scenes with the husband and the dog. When she decides to quit her job as a journalist, it doesn't have much impact, because most of that has been taking place off screen. When John Grogan (Wilson) decides to take a job in Pennsylvania, it means leaving his acerbic editor (Alan Arkin) behind, and that leaves a much greater impression.
The second flaw is the story of John Grogan as a journalist. In the movie, he's constantly pining for the chance to be a real investigative journalist, but when he starts a family he ends up in the role of columnist and stays there for several years. When he finally moves and becomes that reporter he wanted to be, he's constantly trying to be a columnist again. In a better movie, this might be played as an interesting character flaw, but here it's just a thread that gets lost, because this is all about the dog, really. Given the source material, that's fine, but I can't help but feel that there's an even better movie hidden in here somewhere.
Home Video: 44 +1