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Marley & Me


Stars: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Alan Arkin, Nathan Gamble, Haley Bennett

Director: David Frankel

Based on the best-seller by John Grogan, this is the story of a family's life with a totally disobedient and destructive labrador that wrecks their home and very nearly their lives. 'He's just a horrible, horrible animal,' wails Jenny (Aniston) and she's right; you're just grateful the mutt doesn't try to chew the family's babies up when they arrive. In fact, if this film doesn't put you off ever having a dog, nothing will.

Marley (that's the dog) does have his uses, though, turning Jenny's husband John (Wilson) from a struggling reporter into a much-read columnist, as he wittily describes the antics and trials of life with Marley. Arkin is the gruff editor with a heart of gold, and Kathleen Turner cameos as an instructor who throws Marley out of dog training school; in middle-age, the Romancing the Stone star is coming to look more like Kathy Bates.

Much of the film is a pleasant, if unexceptional series of incidents and disasters, but the story descends into outright sentiment towards the end, and the dog's death throes are allowed to go on far too long: the film should end after his first recovery from a twisted stomach, sitting with his master on a path through acres of golden corn - which would also trim an overlong runtime.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
116 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 06 Mar 2009