The movie is about a married couple that buys a little yellow labrador that turns out to be the world's worst dog. Based on the best-selling memoir by John Grogan, the film follows the dog's 13 years with the couple.
Everything bad that you can think a dog can do, this dog, named Marley, does. He chews and destroys everything in and outside the house. He urinates and defecates in inappropriate places. He barks loudly and excessively, especially if there's a thunderstorm. They try to train him, but nothing takes.
The question becomes why do they keep this wild and totally, unruly animal. Possibly, the $200 spent initially was something they didn't want to waste. Yet, the money saved from his destructive nature would have more than made up for it. Dumping him at a pound would seem to be the only option, but they never do it. Why?
By the end, after the dog's antics get worse, as he gets older, I assumed that Marley was ADHD. I hadn't read the book, but, apparently, in the memoir, it's suggested that the dog had some kind of mental disorder. Unfortunately, this is never mentioned in the film. Otherwise, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand how and why they could keep this monster in the house, especially after they start to have little children.
At one point, Grogan's wife, Jen, played by Jennifer Aniston, screams at her husband that she's had enough. She wants the dog gone. This scene was probably the one that rang the most true.
Marley's antics- which cease being funny after the first half-hour- become expected. What isn't expected is the touching drama that eventually takes this movie over. The most touching moment happens more toward the middle. The most sentimental stuff is saved for the end, but it amazed how it slowly crept up on me.
I am not a dog person. The sacrifices made are ones I couldn't make, but, instinctively, the family feels that Marley is a member of theirs. Grogan doesn't even distinguish Marley from one of his children by the end. Eventually, Marley does show his love for the family.
Owen Wilson (The Royal Tenenbaums and Wedding Crashers), who plays Grogan, is funny. He isn't his normal, annoying self. It's Grogan who calls Marley the world's worst dog, but, it's remarkable how his affection for the labrador really shows in the final scene. I have to be honest. It did make me cry. This is extraordinary and faithful.
Five Stars out of Five
Rated PG for some suggestive content
Running Time: 2 hrs.