Marley & Me
With more than four million copies of the book sold worldwide, John Grogan's international bestseller Marley & Me, unsurprisingly, gets the full Hollywood makeover.
Newlywed couple John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny Grogan (Jennifer Aniston) leave the harsh Michigan winters behind in search of a new home to begin married life together. They decide on West Palm Beach, Florida, and secure reporter roles at competing local papers.
With all the new challenges they face ahead, John is apprehensive about the life-changing prospect of starting a family. But after a few words with good friend and fellow journalist Sebastian (Eric Dane), he decides that maybe a dog would be a sensible stepping-stone before children are on the agenda.
After settling into their new lives, John and Jenny become the proud owners of a new Labrador puppy, Marley. But that puppy soon becomes an unruly seven-stone handful, with bundles of unbridled energy.
Marley's mischievous nature makes him an instant hit with the audience, even if the Grogans find his unique attributes a little draining.
Destroying everything in his path is a way of life for Marley but when John and Jenny do eventually decide to start a family, Jenny begins to grow increasingly frustrated with Marley's relentless misbehaving.
John's love for his dog is never in doubt, even though he calls him 'the world's worst dog'.
The main problem with the film is that there isn't anything out of the ordinary about Marley to distinguish him from any other disobedient dog. He doesn't save a baby from a burning building or tackle an intruder in the family household; he's just a dog without discipline. The laid back nature of the Grogans and their lack of structure put in place for Marley means that he can run amuck without any consequences.
Luckily for Marley, and the film, the humans bring his coulourful antics to life as their lives are totally controlled by the actions of the lovable, yet infuriating dog.
The film works because of its simplicity. It follows the ups and downs of married life and the hardships faced with raising a family.
Marley & Me cannot fail to pull at the heartstrings of every dog owner, and will no doubt see a barrage of children plead with their parents to let them adopt a cute canine.
When every female member of the audience burst into tears (this is by no means an exaggeration - there were bloodshot eyes and hankies at every corner), you knew that Marley & Me was going to be a huge success.