“Marley & Me” has a great cast, and when Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston are on screen, singly or together, portraying John and Jenny Grogan, it’s impossible to take your eyes off them. As John’s friend Sebastian Tunney, Eric Dane is equally compelling. Alan Arkin, playing the editor Arnie Klein, makes a great mentor for John. There are several amusing episodes with the incorrigible dog, Marley, who was the “clearance puppy,” priced lower than the rest of the breeder’s offerings and implicitly defective in some way: Marley chews, howls, pees, crashes, escapes, thieves, and even blocks traffic. Being a poor master of dogs, it was easy for me to relate to, although my advice to the Grogans would have been to buy a crate.
Nevertheless, this is a movie, for all its intrinsic merit and occasional high points, that manages to tax the viewer’s patience. After a while, I began to dread John’s anguished consultations with Arnie. Had his career followed the proper path? Through his successful daily newspaper column, he had become the comic voice of South Florida, but he wasn’t happy or fulfilled. And the anguish that John and Jenny share about starting and expanding their family becomes equally tedious. Couldn’t this somehow be compressed? Who decided the film had to sprawl across two hours?
The theater was jam-packed, and everybody was sniffling at the end, but I could hardly wait to get out of there and found myself thinking that the last things in the world I’d want would be a Labrador and to watch this movie again on DVD.