Okay, so everybody knows that watching a movie that features the story of a dog is in for a heartfelt story. We all learned that lesson years ago when we saw “Old Yeller”. If you saw the trailer for this movie, you probably can guess where this movie is going right from the start. All that having been said, this film is EXACTLY what you’d expect. Yep, you guessed it: “Marley & Me” is a wonderful film!
I grew up outside of Emmitsburg, MD in the middle of a very rural community. My father was very big into bird-hunting and to this end had purchased a purebred English Setter whom we named Maggie. I suppose it is not entirely fair to Pebbles (our Black Lab) to say this, but Maggie was really our first family dog. Maggie was a special dog. She was well trained for her “job”; she was a GREAT bird dog. My father loved her so much and knew other hunters would enjoy a similar experience. So, my father decided to buy a male purebred English Setter (a nervous fellow named Mike), and together as a family we would raise and breed and train English Setters. Growing up in this rural setting, surrounded by lots of acres and horse farms and dairy farms, was perfect for just such a task as this.
A funny thing happens when you are a dog owner: you realize that your pet understands you a lot better than you think. They are far smarter than we as humans give them credit for. Dogs just know things. Especially things related to your emotions. We must give off a particular scent or something. I don’t know for sure, but that’s my theory. Anyway, what I am trying to say here is this: dogs love you so honestly and openly that you cannot help but love them back. I cannot think of a finer animal on this planet than a dog. But hey – that’s just me! After all, I raised 16 dogs at once! And not just English Setters either! There was a German Sheppard, a Cocker Spaniel, a French Poodle, a Black Lab, and lots and lots of love.
As years went by, I eventually had to say good-bye to a lot of my best friends that I had growing up. They were my dogs and I loved them all very much. Time, accidents, health issues, or just simply because we raised them to sell them (so that other people could have a chance at that joy too) – these were all reasons I had to say good-bye. In the end, it was down to one. Just one. My Moses. Moses was one of the greatest joys I have ever known in life. He was special for so many reasons (all loving dog owners know this feeling). There are not many days that go by that I do not think of him. He was my buddy, my friend, my brother. He lived an incredibly happy life and lived a very, very long time (folks, 17 years in dog years is REMARKABLE). He had been with me through thick and thin, from when I was a boy until I grew into a man. Having a dog that long and being that close to him, made his loss beyond terrible for me. He was a very good boy.
I tell you this long-winded recollection of my youth because I saw Moses in this movie. If you are a dog-lover, please watch this movie. Heck, just go out and buy it. It is an extremely poignant film. It’s about life – a human life. Marley is part of it, and you see just how that all makes complete sense by the end of it. I don’t know anybody that will watch this movie and not be moved by it. If you aren’t, then I feel sorry for you. Of course, to add to the enjoyment of the film: it’s a true story. Marley was a real dog and John & Jenny Grogan were his owners. I never read the book by Mr. Grogan, but I heard it was a wonderful story.
From the film level, it’s just completely enjoyable to watch Owen Wilson. I have a tough time NOT liking this guy. It’s just a joy seeing him on film. I cannot really put a finger on it, but it’s not because he is such amazing as an actor. He’s just himself and I like that. Jennifer Aniston also falls into that same category and for the same reason. So, kudos to the casting director. You picked 2 very real people to star in this film and that made it very enjoyable.
I just watched and enjoyed and I think – if you ever loved dogs – you will too. As Owen Wilson says in this movie: “A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his.”
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE
- A quote about dogs from Marley & Me (theydontfoolme.com)