Marley & Me

Reviewed
Sun. 6/24/18
Marley & Me
4.0833333333333
Acting
4
4/5
Morality
5
5/5
Music
3.5
3.5/5
Story
4
4/5
Visuals
4
4/5
Kernel Factor
4
4/5
A beautiful coming of age film for families.
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
DVD or Streaming <27in
Viewing Crew:
Significant Other
Times Watched:
2
Genre:
Drama
Payment Method:
Rental/Redbox
Review:

I remember watching "Marley & Me" 10 years ago when it was released. I had a whole different perspective then than I do now. In the 10 years since I first watched this movie until now, I've graduated from college, got a real job, bought a house, had a kid, moved to a safer place, changed jobs, and we're about to have another kid. You'll notice the only thing missing from that story that's in "Marley & Me" is I don't have a dog. Nonetheless, I so resonate with how accurate of a depiction "Marley & Me" is to raising a family. It's really beautiful. I'm not a dog person (nor a cat person, to be clear) and this film proves that I'm not an animal person mostly because I can't stand the thought of losing an animal. This film puts that reality on you hard. But it's a beautiful journey of growing up together.

Acting
Owen Wilson ("John") and Jennifer Aniston ("Jenny") just work. They are funny, serious, nuanced in their roles, and have some of the best chemistry together. It just feels like everyone had fun making this movie. The dynamic between "John" and "Arnie" (played by Alan Arkin) is easily one of my favorite boss-worker relationships I've seen in a film. There are so many subtleties that you might miss if you only see this movie once. Although the kids don't add a ton to this movie, they didn't really need to do much other than say a few lines and be there. Of course, "Marley" is in many ways our lead. I'm amazed by how Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson worked with the dogs who played "Marley". They make "Marley" both horrendous and loveable. For me, I don't necessarily fall in love with "Marley" at the end, but I definitely fall in love with their family. Lastly, and I might mention this a couple more times, but I'm seriously amazed by how Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson stay true to their character yet allow their character to transform over the course of the film. When you think this movie is filmed in non-sequential order over the course of a month or two, it will give you a lot of respect for what they pulled off.
Morality
The way "Marley & Me" is real about marriage, family dynamics, work, life, pets, and death is so refreshing. Some people might balk at how the mundane things in life are shown throughout this movie, but I think that's what makes it so special. Rarely do we get a movie anymore that shows the basics of life...with heart. There is tremendous heart in this film. There are a couple sexual inferenced scenes (in the context of marriage), but it might not be suitable for younger kids. However, if we ever get a dog, this movie would be at the top of my list for our kids to watch. 
Music
The movie makes a pretty dramatic turn about 3/5's of the way through, and so does the music. We go from an upbeat track to more of a somber/serious tone. The music guides us through this journey well. I wish they would've licensed another song or two. The one or two they did worked well.
Story
It's amazing how much ground this movie covers. I commend the director/crew for somehow fitting a dog's life into a movie. I think the writers wrote a tremendous screenplay from the book, but I think the director and specifically the editor had to really think about the transitions from one moment in time to the next. Not only that, but Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson had to "evolve" their characters as time in the film went on. There were so many things that could've gone wrong, that they somehow avoided to make this story work. The set up of "Marley & Me" as we reach the premise is textbook. I was hooked from the start.
Visuals
One of the things I absolutely loved from a filmmaking perspective was how many "oners" they shot. Owen or Jennifer would enter a scene and they would let the scene unfold without cutting. What was so wonderful about that is that it allowed for tension, transition, and highs/lows to develop so much more naturally. Of course, this takes rehearsal, experience, and great chemistry between actors and they had all that (I think :). I'm also impressed by how they filmed "Marley". The rest of the film had good locations and the art department created a very believable family growing up.
Kernel Factor
I'm a sucker for montages. This movie has an INCREDIBLE montage. I must remember to watch the montage that showcases "Marley" growing up as their family begins. It's shot on like a C300 with some main camera interspersed, it's home-movie grainy, with Owen's voice perfectly guiding us in a sweet yet hilarious way. I loved this aspect! I find it ironic that I thought this would be an overly dog-focused movie. It's really not. It can be. But for me, this is a family growing up at a point in my life where it really speaks to me. I'll check it out in another 10 years :)