Marley & Me

Monday, December 29, 2008

This afternoon, I went to see the Marley & Me movie with my mom, my brother and his fiancee, my cousin and her husband, and my other cousin and her daughter.

And I'm not going to lie. It was rough.

However, the tough parts (toward the end) were totally worth it because of the story in its entirety. I read the book 2 or 3 years ago, and I loved it. Reading the book also meant that I knew what I was getting myself into with the movie--and I was a little bit afraid to see it. But I had heard good things, and so many of my family members wanted to see it, so I figured I'd give it a go.

I think we're all aware of the rule: Movies based on books cannot possibly be as good as the book. I usually go to see book movies and leave completely disappointed. To take just one example: The Da Vinci Code. Holy crap did that movie suck. And that was Ron Howard. Ron Howard!! He generally makes fantastic movies, so I had high hopes for that one. But it suuucccked. Really sucked.

To my surprise, this was not the case with Marley & Me. Maybe it's because there were a few years between my reading the book and my seeing the movie. Maybe it's just because it's a great story, and is seemingly impossible to mess up. Whatever it is... I really enjoyed this movie.

As far as I can remember, they followed the book pretty closely. Obviously there were little jokes added in, and things here and there that were changed for the sake of film (and things that were cut out for time), but the general plot, and the way that things happened--all of that was mostly the same.

They also added in a character (played by Eric Dane from Grey's Anatomy), a coworker/friend of John's, to help viewers understand Grogan's career goals and the dreams he had for himself (and how life ultimately does not go as Grogan may have originally planned). Eric Dane was perfect in this role, as it is almost exactly the same character he plays on Grey's.

But all of the fundamentals, the pieces of this story that make it great--love, life, and laughter--were all there. I read a couple of pretty bad reviews that complained that there was too much "me" and not enough Marley. I wonder if those reviewers ever read the book.

Every time I've described this book for someone who hasn't read it, I've always explained it's pretty much an autobiography that centers around 13 particular years of the author's life, but it also focuses a lot on his and his family's relationship with their dog. Sure, it's the story of a dog. But it's also the story of a man, his wife, and ultimately, their family. Of which Marley is a huge part. That's kinda the whole point of the story, and I guess some people are missing that.

For the record, my 6-year-old cousin did not like the movie. She thought it was boring, and when everyone else was crying, she said "But it's just a dog!" So maybe not necessarily a movie for the whole family. I think she was a little too young to really get it.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed Owen Wilson. I liked him in Wedding Crashers, and he's had a few other funny, quirky roles, but I will admit that when I heard he was playing John Grogan in this film, I was not impressed. But he did a much better job than I ever anticipated. Jennifer Aniston was good, too.

About 18 months ago, my mom, my brothers and I had to put down our family dog. She was 14 years old, and we had rescued her when she was only about 6 months old. I was 11 when we got her, and was just a few weeks shy of 25 when we put her down. I felt like I had had her all of my life. It was one of the hardest things ever. So for me, I could totally relate to this story, and I thought the movie was completely genuine.

You can never understand the love of a dog (and the love you feel for a dog) unless you've ever had one. The love, the joy, the anger, the frustration, the commitment... everything involved. But really, that's for any pet. Our pets generally don't outlive us, we outlive them. So when we take them on as members of our family, we do it knowing that someday, it is destined to end in heartbreak.

And we do it anyway. Because it's worth it.

So is this movie.


Linda December 29, 2008 at 7:25 PM  

Thanks for the review. It's been added to my must see list.

Melissa December 29, 2008 at 8:24 PM  

Ive been debating going to see this for the last few days. Losing my dog a few years ago, and just dealing with death in my family 7 months ago..I wonder if I can handle it. I read the book though, and LOVED it. So I think Ill go see it, I could use a good cleansing cry :)

Laura December 29, 2008 at 9:01 PM  

I lost my childhood pet last year after a freak accident. A co worker spoiled the ending of the book for me last week. I had no idea! I probably couldn't get through this movie without a box of tissues.

Vanessa December 30, 2008 at 7:03 AM  

I LOVED this book and I can't wait for this movie to come out in Europe. Can't wait. I love dogs so much and I bawled my eyes out reading the end. I am so pleased you liked the movie so much - gets me even more excited to see it! Bet you gave Tess an extra long snuggle when you got home!

Anonymous,  December 30, 2008 at 9:59 AM  

I may be interested, but certainly don't want to give John Grogan a penny of my money, so i'll certainly pass on both the book and movie!

That Fresh Feeling December 30, 2008 at 10:22 AM  

My mother in law saw it and said it was great...although very emotional! She said they did a wonderful job with following the book.

Glad you enjoyed it.

I am looking forward to seeing it in the next week or so.

Heather December 30, 2008 at 10:45 AM  

Anonymous--I'm curious what John Grogan has done that is good reason for boycott?

Sarah December 30, 2008 at 1:06 PM  

We saw this movie on Christmas Day. It was, by far, the saddest movie I've ever seen. I'm sure the true dog lovers wouldn't understand. Great review. :)

Anonymous,  December 30, 2008 at 1:30 PM  

I loved the movie! Every single women in that theater was balling in the end, then I turned behind me, and there was 3 men sniffling as well. Great movie.

risthina December 31, 2008 at 12:05 AM  

Do you some one love pets. Hire if that saw I can give you a clue to see this wonderful movie to see. how a pet gave love to a family and what they really ask from god. Marley & Me (2008) is that movie I saw the movie on it will be fascinating adventure stuff by a dog. It was the movie with lovely idea

coffee buzz January 2, 2009 at 10:37 PM  

judging by the box office, it looks like Jennifer Aniston is giving Brad Pitt a run for his money...

Anonymous,  January 20, 2009 at 1:43 PM  

"Anonymous--I'm curious what John Grogan has done that is good reason for boycott?"
Super conservative, and I personally believe he is funding channels that I have no desire to support! I have a large group of friends that are also boycotting!

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