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Marley and Me (Two-Disc Bad Dog Edition) - comedy DVD / family and children's DVD review
Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner, Alan Arkin, Nathan Gamble
Director: David Frankel   Distributor: 20th Century Fox
DVD release: 31 March 2009   Runtime: 115 minutes
(2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC

DVD features: Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English; Dolby Digital Surround - Spanish, French), Subtitles (English, Spanish), Deleted scenes w/ commentary (dir. David Frankel), Finding Marley, Breaking the Golden Rule, On Set with Marley: Dog of All Trades, Animal Adoption, Purina Dog Chow Marley & Me video contest finalists, Purina Dog Chow Video Hall of Fame, Gag Reel, "When Not to Pee," Digital copy of feature

I read and loved the book Marley and Me by John Grogan. It's one of the few books I've actually read more than once and loved as much with each reading. I was anxious to see how well it translated onto film, and although it's a bit different, the overall message remains the same-one of real life, love, and family.

John Grogan (Owen Wilson) and his wife, Jennifer (Jennifer Aniston), move from Michigan to Florida after getting married. Jen gets a job as a reporter at one newspaper, and John gets a job at another. It quickly becomes apparent that John's career as a "reporter" is going nowhere fast. Jen has a plan for their lives, starting with getting married, moving, then finding a house. Afraid that children might be next, John decides that getting a dog might be the next natural progression. I mean, if you can take care of a dog, then kids can't be that difficult, can they? He surprises Jen with a Labrador puppy whom they name Marley.

Marley is quickly dubbed "The World's Worst Dog" because he is incorrigible-lovable, but truly a terror. He chews up everything in sight, gets kicked out of obedience school, humps anything that stands still, and is beyond terrified of thunderstorms. Marley becomes the catalyst in John and Jen's life; through heartbreak and triumph, he's the constant that holds them together and sometimes threatens to tear them apart.

Marley and Me is a heartwarming and touching story, and its realism is what elevates the story above anything else. If you just watch the previews, you might think that it's a funny story about a dog and his antics. But in reality, Marley and Me is so much more. It's the story about the genesis and development of a marriage and eventually a family. The dog is in the midst of it all, causing havoc yet also the catalyst for positive change and growth.

Although Marley and Me is rated PG, it's not really a movie for kids. If parents want their children to watch it, I'd recommend giving it a view sans kids at first, to watch out for the mature themes. There are definitely some heavy and more "adult" portions-including the extended discussions about trying to have a baby and the pretty obvious sex scenes. Although they are between married people, it might cause some uncomfortable questions. My husband and I went to see Marley and Me at the theater, and I was able to fast-forward through the borderline parts at home so my kids could watch the movie, too.

Even then, I think that those of us who have experienced life and parenthood will definitely get more out of the movie than the kids, no matter how funny some of the dog sequences are. Also, the dog does die in the end. It's the culmination of a long and happy life, but it may be very difficult for children to handle - it definitely made me cry during both viewings.

For adults with children and families of their own, Marley and Me is a superb movie, incredibly realistic and true to real life and the wonders of growing, changing, loving, and the eventual loss that comes at the finish of a life well-lived.
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reviewed by Melissa Parcel
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