Plot: What’s it about?
John Grogan (Owen Wilson) has just married his beautiful sweetheart Jenny (Jennifer Aniston), which means his life is going to change in some ways. But he had no idea how much, as his new wife had already mapped out the direction of their life together, with little room for debate. John wasn’t given much input into the matter either, but his love for his wife drove him to listen to her, which meant moving to Florida. There the new couple can start their life as one, with plans to add a child into the household, as soon as possible. This spooks John and when a friend suggests a puppy to hold Jenny’s child wish at bay, he agrees and brings home an adorable puppy named Marley. But when Marley turns out to be the dog from hell, how will the new couple deal with him and how will it impact their life plans?
An emotional conclusion can be a powerful tool in cinema, the culmination of all the effective writing, directing, and performances involved. But sometimes filmmakers get lazy and decide that since the ending is emotional, there’s no need to build to that final lap. In Marley & Me, we have a cute puppy who is a tornado of trouble and causes his owners all kinds of grief, but also provides them with love and great memories. The dog section of this film works, we get attached to Marley and the antics of the pooch are fun to watch. But then we have a relationship plot shoved in, which overshadows the pet-owner bond angle, which in effect sabotages the emotional conclusion. If you take out Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston’s poorly executed relationship plot, there is a solid movie in here. But sadly what could have been a heartfelt, emotional experience is sullied by bad writing and some weak performances. But if you’re the kind of person who wants to suffer through a paper thin storyline just to be sucker punched, then Marley & Me is for you.
Video: How does it look?
Marley & Me is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a brand new release, so as expected the visuals are clean and sharp. The image has great depth, as detail shines and even the smallest touches are crystal clear. A good number of scenes almost bound off the screen, that is how impressive the detail level is. A few scenes show a touch of softness, so this isn’t a top tier transfer, but it comes close. I found no issues with color or contrast, both of which perform quite well. In short, this is one that should satisfy all viewers, great work all around.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD 5.1 option does more with the material than I anticipated, but is still by no means a dynamic experience. The sound design here focuses on dialogue, both spoken and barked, so the surrounds aren’t alive throughout. But this mix does add a little spice, which brings some scenes to life a little more and that is always welcome. So this isn’t as reserved as most movies of this kind, though the audio is still on the low end. But for a movie like this, the soundtrack is above average. The music kicks in some added presence also, while dialogue is flawless here. This release also includes Spanish, French, and Portuguese language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Portuguese.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A quartet of brief, promotional featurettes, some deleted scenes, an outtakes reel, and two short films comprise the supplements on the main disc. In addition to those goodies, bonus discs house a DVD version of the movie and a digital copy, for use on portable devices.