I watched Marley and Me back to back with about four other films, and this one was my favorite. It’s a really sweet, honest, and well put together film. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston both did an amazing job at representing the different aspects of marriage. That being said I have one HUGE problem with it — the marketing. This is in no way, shape, or form a little kids movie. I think that parents need to be forewarned before taking their toddlers to see what they think will be a story about a cute puppy destroying things.
I should warn you, there are some serious spoilers ahead, but if you are a parent debating whether or not you should take your young one I highly encourage you to read them. Plus, as an adult, this is the type of film that you’re not really surprised by anything and so the “spoilers” won’t really ruin it for you. I could tell you the whole story and you would still have to experience it. Plus it was a book, so you should have read it already.
I came to the conclusion that this was not a kids film about 30 minutes from the end of it. I had watched many young children pile into the theater to see Marley tear things to shreds and hang out a car window. I was surprised to see that the film was dealing with many real life issues in a very true to life way. I pondered on that, until I realized, “they’re going to kill the dog.” Suddenly I wanted to get the kids out of the theater before they saw something they could never un-see.
Then it happened. They killed the dog. And it took them 20 minutes to do it. They went into detail after detail. The pain. The children crying. The sickness. The vet scene where Owen Wilson says good-bye to Marley. Then finally you watch them administer the eutanazia, you watch it hit the dogs system, and finally you watch his eyes close.
Now I respect that they Director David Frankel stayed true to the book, but that is way to much for a 5-year-old to handle. Hell it was too much for me to handle. The idea of death is challenging enough, but watching it actually happen? To me that’s really no worse that watching a human being killed. Would you make that PG?
Which leads me to my next point. The other things you’re going to have to explain to your children. I can just hear the them walking out of the theaters asking “what does a baby inside a mommy with no heart beat mean?” and “what ever happened to that baby?” Or possibly the grander ideas like, settling for something you don’t really want or how mommy had to give up her dreams to raise children. All of the issues are dealt with very well and I’m sure could be appreciate by many adults and parents. BUT! This movie is being marketed with a puppy that has a giant bow around it’s neck! That is just wrong!
So if you’re an adult looking for an honest movie that you can relate to, it’s a great pick. It’s about overcoming the challenges and pitfalls in life and finding the joy in every moment. Just leave the kiddies at home.
Movie in theaters Christmas Day 2008.