With Foxtel offering the movies channels for free for 2 weeks, I decided to sit down (on my day off) and watch this dog-comedy. Basically, I just expected it to be a movie with dog-antics and jokes, but it actually turned out to be more of a drama. There are some really sad points and I was surprised to find that Marley & Me is actually based on a memoir by the same title by John Grogan. It stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston.
Synopsis (includes spoilers for ending)
The film is based on the memoir by John Grogan, a reporter, which spans about 14 years and is centered about John’s dog, Marley. The story begins with John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) Grogran just after they’ve gotten married. Both are reports for different newspapers. Disappointingly, John is given assignments writing about insignificant news, whilst Jenny and John’s friend Sebastian are given exciting assignments involving war and politics. When Jenny starts dropping hints about having a child, John decides her a Labrador puppy instead. However, the dog, Marley, turns out to be an incredibly mischievous, destructive and “untrainable” dog. This is the beginning of a long story involving John and Jenny’s transition into building a family (through a miscarriage and eventually 3 kids), moving several times, and changing careers. Jenny gives up her job as a reporter to take care of their children. Meanwhile, John’s unexpected success as a columnist leads him to being offered a permanent column. However, he still dreams about being a hard-hitting reporter. Towards the end of the film, the family moves to Philadelphia, where John takes up a job as a reporter. However, he soon realises that he is a better columnist writer than a reporter. The end of the film demonstrates how far the family has now gone – sadly, Marley is now 14 years old and ill. When it becomes clear that Marley’s health will not improve, John takes Marley to vet to be euthanised.
Related Text Potential:
Standard English – Module C – Into the World
This could also work as a related text for Into the World. There are some key ideas in the film, which demonstrate aspects of going “into the world”.
- In what ways do John and Jenny move “into the world”? Think about ideas of maturation, building a family, pursuing their dreams to be reporters.
- When John and Jenny marry, Jenny has a step-by-step plan of what their life will be together: job, house, kids etc. What wasn’t part of her plan? Did her life turn out better than her plan?
- Both John and Jenny experience hardships and setbacks in their lives – what are some experienced personally, in their relationships and in their careers?
- What does John realise about his dreams and what his life turned out to be?
- What do John and Jenny gain through their experiences?
Some notable film techniques include:
- the characterisation of Marley – what do you think he represents?
- the montage with John’s voice over (snippets of his column)
- the scene where John and Jenny find out about the miscarriage
- the characterisation of Sebastian – what does he represent for John?
- the scene where John and Sebastian meet again (in the latter half of the film)
When I sat down to watch this film, I thought it’d be pure entertainment. I mean I like Owen Wilson and plus a cute dog should be fun! But it actually turned out to be quite moving.
If you’re not sure about using this film, maybe consider reading the memoir!