To build up excitement before Valentine’s Day, why not make some popcorn, grab your favourite blanket, and enjoy watching the daily life of a mischievous and cute little Labrador retriever? In case you’re wondering, Marley was indeed a real dog and he belonged to John and Jennifer Grogan. Based on a 2005 bestselling book, the film stars Jennifer Anniston and Owen Wilson as John and Jenny Grogan, two of the most well-known comic actors – what could beat that?
The film begins with what Jenny describes as the ‘first step’ in her plan, marrying the love of her life, before continuing to the second step, moving from snowy Michigan to West palm Beach, Florida. The third and final step would mean… yes! You got it, a baby! Mr. Grogan, not feeling quite ready to start a family yet, and taking his friend’s advice, decides to ‘stop his wife’s clock for a few years’ by buying a lovely Labrador puppy. Adding a furry instead of a human child to their family, what could go wrong?
As the plot develops, the audience quickly realises how the naïve looking puppy, named Marley, was the craziest of them all. With an attention span of around 3 seconds and a never ending appetite which could be compared to a black hole, Marley creates the most bewildering situations for his new owners. Not only does Marley supply the lovely and playful moments in the movie, but he shares the spotlight with his humans. From making a hole in the wall when left alone for two hours, to running after seagulls at the beach, crazy little Marley soon grows up and turns out to be a handful.
The Grogans’ relationship is not overly cheesy nor sentimental. Instead, they portray a realistic couple with quarrels, special moments, but most important of all, love. Mrs Grogan is a newspaper reporter, along with her husband. Slightly appalled that his wife is getting to publish so many articles, he is then offered to write his own column. Using the disastrous adventures from his daily life with Marley, he starts writing stories with their golden dog as the protagonist. The film depicts everyday life. No idealisation, but instead, the bits and pieces of a family, with all the bad parts, and also the good ones. The film reminds us: Dogs (as well as other companion animals) are for life, and shouldn’t be bought on impulse. Research and commitment for around 10-15 years should be taken into consideration when deciding to add a new member to the family.
Don’t fret if you’ve already seen this movie and don’t want to watch it again, for you can always turn to the sequel ‘Marley & Me: The Puppy Years’. Maybe, just maybe, you would understand why the author of the book, John Grogan, endearingly referred to Marley as the ‘world’s worst dog’.
What if what you always wanted had always been there for you? As Jenny says: “All of this wasn’t part of our plan, but it’s so much better!” There is a point in the film, where the couple realises that ‘the world’s worst dog’ brings out the best in them. Their Marley, perhaps, was ‘the greatest dog of them all’… “A dog has no use for fancy cars, or big homes or designer clothes…A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor… clever or dull… Give him your heart, and he’ll give you his”.
Image Credit: Caiboy via Phxere