"Marley & Me: 3-Disc Bad Dog Edition" Blu-ray Review
April 09, 2009 by James Harvey
A cute movie, Marley & Me tells the simple story of a very rambunctious family dog. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston take the lead in this recent comedy-drama, one that turned out to be quite the hit for 20th Century Fox at the end of 2008. Based on the non-fiction bestseller of the same name, and written by John Gordon, Marley & Me takes us through the life of Marley, a very unique canine with a strong personality and a knack for bizarre behavior. Full of heart-warming moments and plenty of surprises, this movie takes us through the life of on particular canine, one you likely won't forget anytime soon.
Packed with playful special features, including tons of deleted scenes and irresistible featurettes, Marley & Me is a satisfying treat for the whole family! Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson unleash huge laughs as John and Jenny Grogan, a young couple contemplating the decision to have a baby. Then came Marley...an adorable Labrador pup who flunks obedience school and quickly turns his new home into a disaster area. But as mischievous Marley sees the Grogans through the ups and downs of life and love, they ultimately realize that “the world’s worst dog” truly brings out the best in them.
This movie can definitely be considered a love-letter to the pet owners of the world. Anyone who owns a pet can relate to Marley & Me and may even see a bit of their own dog or cat in the mischievous behavior of the title character. The bond that forms, the good times and the bad, how the dog adapts to a growing family or moving to a new home, all of it is found in Marley & Me. And, to be honest, it's easy to call this movie formulaic and predictable because, well, it is. We know how this movie's going to unfold and how it will inevitably end, because, in the end, all this movie is doing and trying to tell the time-honored story of a family and their dog, and it's a story we all know. But what Marley & Me does, thanks to it's lovable lead pooch, is keep us interested in a story we already know.
And, with that said, people will love this movie. There's actually a lot that people will love about this movie. It has two attractive leads (who I'll talk about in a moment), some great gags and some really hard-hitting moments that will undoubtedly send you running to your Kleenex boxes, but, more importantly, it also has heart. And that heart allows this movie to overcome the vast amount of hurdles that, in any other film, would inevitably sink it. Like I said above, there's no real unexpected twists here, and that's not an issue for the movie. It doesn't try to do anything then tell the simple story it wants to sell and, despite the fact that this movie is probably no more than an average flick, it still has the power to pull us in, and, once again, we can thank the dog for that.
If there is any real negative note to make against the movie, it mostly has to do with the film's human cast. Aniston and Wilson are good in their roles, though are at times difficult to take seriously. Not only are they hard to believe as two journalists, but as a couple that's supposed to age over the span of roughly ten years, it's nearly impossible to notice any progression these characters make. In fact, any characters who have any type of reoccurring role in the movie appear to be frozen in time, never aging for the duration of the film. Only Marley himself seems to grow older as the clock ticks on.
Overall, it's a simple movie telling a simple story, and while that may sound like some sort of backhanded insult, it's not for Marley & Me. There's really nothing else to say besides that (which is why this review seems to brief). It's actually a joy to see a movie that isn't bogged with cynicism or dark subplots, but just a genuine go-for-the-heart story about a family and their dog. Yes, this movie is decidedly average at almost every turn, but the lead pooch makes it seem more than that. It's a movie that is built to tug at the heartstring and make you feel nostalgic, and it doesn't apologize for any of that. While Marley & Me won't win any awards or be added to any Top Ten lists, it's still an enjoyable romp that comes Recommended, especially for pet owners.
In terms of the release, Fox Home Entertainment has given Marley & Me, the Blu-ray Special Edition release labeled Marley & Me: 3-Disc Bad Dog Edition, a nice bundle of bonus features that reveal a small amount of the film's production.
As one can expect, the majority of the bonus features focus on animal-related antics. The featurettes cover finding the right dog (or dogs) for the part, the assorted antics and fun-loving mayhem the dog started on set, and the cast's reaction to working with such a lovable pooch. We also get a quick introduction to the real-life John and Jennifer Grogan in the "Breaking the Golden Rule" featurette. The disc also contains a collection of 19 deleted scenes, with optional commentary, all of which really wouldn't have added to the movie in any real way except to pad out the run time and maybe emphasize a few subplots and characters already made clear in the movie itself. We also get a somewhat humorous Gag Reel and, most importantly, a featurette on animal adoption. The Blu-ray release also contains a "Dog Training" feature, a Picture-in-Picture based Profile 1.1 feature accessible through the menu or movie, with more behind-the-scenes video. A very standard collection of extras with no real surprises, but something fans of the movie should find enjoyable.
In addition, a film-only DVD of this movie is included on the second disc and a Digital Copy of the film on the third disc.
Thankfully, while the extras may be lacking somewhat, the audio and video transfer is as top-notch as can be expected. The video transfer is colorful and very sharp. The black and colors are as rich as can be expected and the detail is pretty excellent. The movie not only looks as great as it possibly can on Blu-ray, but it also sounds just as great with the DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround track track. While this isn't a real aggressive audio mix, it does get it right with the track coming off very clean and balanced. A great audio and video transfer that both looks and sounds gorgeous.
Overall, Marley & Me is a surprising movie. It's surprisingly heartfelt movie based around a dog and his family. Through the dog's lifespan we see Marley's owners go through the assorted ups and downs of life, and we follow Marley through it all. As I said above, it's a surprisingly simple movie with no real surprises or last minute plot twists. It's just a straightforward story of a family and their dog, and that alone is enjoyable enough. Animal lovers will grab onto this and find so much of it relatable, which is probably why this movie turned out to be a surprise hit last year. Those who love this movie, or what to give the movie a spin for the first time, will definitely find the Blu-ray a great way to go with the excellent audio and video transfer. True, the bonus features are a bit lacking, but I'm sure there's enough content to please most fans of the movie. On that note, I'd have to rate Marley & Me: 3-Disc Bad Boy Edition as Recommended for the fans, though first-time viewers may want to consider renting the movie on Blu-ray before purchasing it.
Marley & Me: 3-Disc Bad Dog Edition is now available on Blu-ray with a Special Edition release also available on DVD.