Saturday, August 07, 2010

Marley & Me

The other day we bought a puppy, a Pomeranian cross.   For some reason by the time I got home from work he'd acquired the name, Marley, which seemed to suit him just fine, in spite of the fact that at present he's little more than a couple-of-hands-lengths piece of creamy brown fluff. 

My daughter had a book called The Dog Whisperer, by Jan Fennell.   My wife has been reading it and picking up tips about training the puppy.   So far things are going well, helped by the fact that the little bloke is pretty amenable anyway. 

A friend of ours called up to see the puppy.  She's a great dog lover herself, and brought with her a DVD of a movie called Marley & Me.   Our friend probably enjoyed the movie a good deal more than we did, but we cringed at the way in which the labrador in this film is allowed to wreck everything in sight, chewing up furniture, books, carpets, floors, walls, and more.  Kathleen Turner, who gets fourth billing in the cast, has a three minute scene as a dog trainer.   This dog is even too much for her.   (Why they don't try another dog trainer is beyond me.)  This dog is never given the slightest bit of discipline.   The married couple, played by Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, react to his every piece of wrongdoing with mild expressions of surprise, and seem won over by his (very) occasional moments of tender loving care for them and their kids.

Apparently this movie was based on a bestseller in which just such a dog featured.   The book was based on bi-weekly columns in which his exploits were given prominence, and won for the newspaper a huge following.  (This must have been some time ago; newspapers are lucky to increase their readership at all these days.)  I can only think that the columns/book must have been a good deal more amusing than this movie.  It never knows whether it's supposed to be a comedy (dog pulling owner through all sorts of 'funny' settings), a schmaltzy piece of family history, a story about the ups and downs of marriage (nothing particularly drastic), what happens when a person writes a column but wants to be a reporter (Wilson's character seemed particularly dense at this point) or...who knows?   My wife asked: who is this film meant for?  

I checked out what Roger Ebert had to say.  He coped with it, but I don't think it's his favourite movie of all time.   But I was amazed by Stephanie Zacharek's review (she writes for Salon.com).  Normally this woman will see through anything that's intended to pull the audiences' heartstrings in a cheap fashion, and she begins her review by discussing that.   But perhaps she's lost an important pet at some time; whatever the reason, she gives the thumbs up to this movie.

Well, we can't agree all the time, Stephanie.
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