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Starring: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Alan Arkin, Kathleen Turner, Eric Dane

Director: David Frankel

Writers: Scott Frank, Don Roos

Cinematography: Florian Ballhaus

Original Score: Theodore Shapiro

Running Time: 111 mins.

When Marley & Me opened across the pond back in December it dumb-founded critics and studio bosses alike, making a hefty $50 million in just 4 days off the back of largely mediocre reviews, more recently Paul Blart: Mall Cop has done just the same thing, proving that some films simply are critic proof.

Approaching this film with very low expectations I expected some dog based slapstick and an abundance of cheesey romance, which in itself is not neccessarily a bad thing, if done well, and wouldn’t you know it, Marley & Me could well be one of the best examples of how to make a crowd pleasing rom-com that not only makes you laugh, but also cry through sheer engagement with the actors, and one heck of an endearing doggy performance.

Looking at Marley & Me through the eyes of a dog lover obviously helps, but it’s about more than the trials and tribulations of dog ownership, and Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson put in truly heartfelt turns taking material that could so easily have been dull and generic and injecting some real emotion, you really believe in them as a couple.

Of course it helps that behind the camera is David Frankel of The Devil Wears Prada, fame once again bringing a zip and energy that is much needed in a premise this flimsy, and unlike the dire He’s Just Not That Into You the running time flys by, leaving you yearning for more time with Marley and co., something I thought I’d never feel about Aniston!  

Following his breakdown, this is Wilson’s first significant role and regardless of what he went through, he seems to have come out fighting. Here he is more likeable than ever before and though it’s no major departure from past characters there seems to be a level of maturity to balance out the surfer-dude personality of old. The only slightly jarring factor is the relationship, or lack thereof, between he and his ‘children’, it matters little though as the importanat relationship is between man and dog, something that, once again, any dog lover will appreciate and love in equal measure recognising trait after trait.

Clearly aided in the newspaper setting of the The Devil Wears Prada the scenes of Wilson at work also have a real joy expecially in the interplay between Alan Arkin and Wilson, again it’s far from revolutionary but it IS hugely fun and entertaining and in all honesty if a films goal isn’t to do this, what is it?

VERDICT

Marley & Me is the labrador of the film world, reliable, loveable and truly heart warming, with three winning performances in Wilson, Aniston and of course, Marley! The best in show, quite frankly your unlikely to see a better Rom’Com this year.

grade-b5

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