Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
|Featuring:||Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Alan Arkin, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner, Haley Bennett, more »|
|Director:||David Frankel—“Collateral Beauty” (2016), “Hope Springs” (2012), “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)|
|Producer:||Fox 2000 Pictures, Regency Enterprises, Kevin Halloran, Gil Netter, Karen Rosenfelt|
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.|
“Life and love with the world’s worst dog”
Who wouldn’t love a cute, yellow fur ball that doesn’t just chew household items, but actually eats them? Adapted from the best-selling novel, “Marley and Me” tells the story of how a yellow retriever was labeled “the world’s worst dog” by his owners. Only come to find out later, that Marley was not such a bad dog after all, but a beloved member of their family.
Newlyweds John and Jennifer Grogan are news reporters for rivaling newspapers in Florida. As with many newly married couples, they are not quite sure about children, and a dog seems like the next natural step. So they decide on a male golden retriever and name him Marley. Not long goes by before they realize that Marley eats anything in sight, is destructively afraid of thunderstorms, and likes to chase anything with feet. As their family grows with three children and relocates to Pennsylvania, Marley never changes his loving, unruly personality.
Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston did well in their lead roles. It was nice to see Wilson back on the big screen in a cleaner film. No less than 22 dogs were used in the making of the film and one can see why. Whenever Marley entered a scene, he was always running, barking, or tearing up something. After several of these, the point was made of Marley’s antics. One unfamiliar with the book would wonder how in the world the Grogans ever put up with a dog like Marley. In the novel, Grogan also explains Marley’s positive attributes that made him a crazy, but lovable dog. The film does not enter this part until the very end of the film when his loving nature is explained through merely dialogue. It would have been nice if more moments were visually shown about how Marley was actually a pretty decent dog.
Before getting into the offensive content, I feel I should warn parents that this film is not entirely appropriate for small or even impressionable children. The film has been marketed as a movie for the entire family; however, the profanities and sexual references make the movie not ideal for very young children. The movie should have been rated PG-13.
As for the profanity, the Lord’s name is profaned about 17 times. In addition, I counted 8 more curse words, including SOB and sh*t. Conversations of “balls” and “boobs” take place.
There is quite a bit of sexual content in the movie. While the majority does take place between a husband and wife, parents ultimately will know whether or not their children are old enough to handle it. After discussing having children, John and Jennifer are shown rolling around in a bed, kissing. In one scene, Jennifer calls John to tell him there’s a naked woman in the bed. He jokingly tells her to get started with the woman, so a threesome is implied. When visiting Ireland, John mentions he can have sex in front of Jesus or even Mary, but not that man (he points to the pope). He says the creaking in the bed is probably oversexed souls in hell. Jennifer mentions the thought of having sex in a prudish house turns her on. The bed creaks as they begin kissing. In one scene, Jennifer surprises John by skinny dipping in the pool. She is shown taking off her dress from behind. While nothing is shown, their being nude is heavily implied.
There are some other instances that might offend a Christian viewer that are worth mentioning. Throughout the film, many women are shown in bikinis. Marley pulls the towel off of the house sitter (off screen). Drinking takes place several times during the movie. In the beginning, John and his wife take turns taking drinks from a wine bottle. Grogan tells his boss about his bong-hits back in school. His boss later asks him if he and his wife are having sex and if John’s “pulling a goalie.” Marley humps the dog trainer. Marley goes to the bathroom often and is shown chewing up different things, including a bra. Grogan’s friend Sebastian is a negative influence and a constant flirt.
The film is touching in its portrayal of the difficulties of marriage and raising a family. While most couples would have given up and filed for divorce, the Grogans stuck together through the tough times and raised their children together. While it would have been nice if God was referenced, it was refreshing to see a marriage depicted as a serious commitment in a film. Too many people today merely view marriage “as a sheet of paper” and just give up when things get a bit tough. However, marriage is a holy commitment in the joining of two people for the rest of their lives. Jesus wisely said:
“but at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Although the movie lacked the charm of John Grogan’s writing, the movie did have its own funny moments. With the above reservations, I do recommend the film, but only to parents and much older children. If you do decide to take young children, please be forewarned that an animal is shown being put to sleep. This is a heart-wrenching scene, so be prepared to discuss it.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Positive—This is in reference to the comment made by “Jennifer, age 45.” She stated she read the book Marley & Me with her 10-year-old and found it “perfectly appropriate” for elementary school-age children. First let me say there are two books: one called simply Marley (for children); and the other Marley & Me (for adults). You must have read Marley with your child because Marley & Me makes reference to two killings of the Grogran's elderly neighbors… one with a chainsaw; the other by suffocating with a mattress. The adult version of the book also makes mention of Jenny walking home one day and a car pulling up beside her only to be exposed to a fully naked man masturbating. In addition, there is sexual content and a couple of swear words in the book. I just finished reading Marley & Me last weekend. My 7-year-old son brought home the book Marley from school (a Christian school). The children's version naturally takes all the inappropriate stuff out! As for the movie, my husband and I saw it without the kids, and I agree it should be rated PG-13. I thought it was a good movie, but do movies really need sexual content and swearing to make it good? Wake up, Hollywood! Also, the ending was so heart-wrenching that grown men were crying—just a word of caution. I would let my 13-year-old and 7-year-old see it as long as I were there with the remote to mute and/or skip over certain scenes.
Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Julie, age 40 (USA)