Marley & Me
John Grogan (Owen Wilson) is a newspaper columnist who documents his middle-class marriage and family life--along with extreme canine misbehavior--and shares these experiences with readers who identify with his everyday struggles. The Marley & Me constructed by director David Frankel is conventional to the point of generic, a contemporary Norman Rockwell vision enlivened only by the eponymous dog and the chaos he leaves in his wake. John and wife Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) are so bland, their challenges so commonplace, that they need the anarchy of the Labrador retriever who will not be tamed--or shamed--to shake them out of their comfort zone. But in adapting the best-selling 2005 memoir, screenwriters Scott Frank and Don Roos keep this exuberant dog on a very tight leash. When the newly married Grogans flee Michigan for warmer weather and journalism jobs in Florida, the ambitious young couple casually brings a rambunctious puppy into their frenzied lives, not realizing the impact he'll have on them. What Marley & Me captures best is a dog's lifespan, from an object to be purchased to a beloved family member worthy of a burial and eulogy. The filmmakers are clearly dog lovers, creating moments of canine/human connection that resonate deeply, including an achingly real depiction of the yellow Lab's final visit to the vet, and his owner's heartfelt last words to the "world's worst dog."