Marley & Me 
Blu-ray Drama
Written by Noah Fleming   
Wednesday, 01 April 2009

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"Marley & Me" is the tear-jerker of the year.  I don't care who you are, you will ball like a baby at the end of this film.  Even if you know it is coming, tears will be rolling down your cheeks.  I have never cried so hard in my life.

The film is based on the popular novel and real life events.  Having read the book, I can say that the film delivers as much power as the written word.  Marley appears in the film exactly how I pictured him when reading the book.

The story follows a family, beginning with the man and wife.  John and Jennifer (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) are newlyweds that move from Michigan to Florida.  Both are writers for newspapers.  However, Jennifer has this life plan, and next on the list is a baby.  To put it off for a few years, John gets Jenny a puppy for her birthday.  Smooth move John.

At a puppy farm, John and Marley pick Marley, a yellow lab out of a large bunch of super cute puppies.  While Jen is away, John comes back to pick up the puppy.  Instantly, he is the cutest puppy that loves to eat, both doggy food and drywall.  He is terrified of thunderstorms (so is my puppy).  Marley is the biggest troublemaker if there ever was one.

For years, Jen and John deal with raising Marley, never training him.  Throughout his life Marley chews on everything from walls to pillows to telephones.  Rambunctious doesn't even begin to describe Marley's behavior.  Naturally, the excitement of the puppy wears off, and both Jen and John are ready to try for a baby.  It doesn't take more than a couple of months and the duo are pregnant.

Shortly after number one is born, the couple is pregnant with number two.  Both are sons.  Number two son is a crier that keeps Jen up day in and day out.  She has quit her job to raise their family, so John takes on a full time column for his paper, receiving double his previous salary.  Still, John longs to be a reporter like his big-time friend Sebastian, who is off to work for the New York Times.

After a major fight between Jen and John that almost gets Marley put out on the street, the couple has baby number three.  Finally, a girl.  Life seems good.  Jen and John have three kids, without the pandemonium, Marley, who has calmed down just the slightest bit, and a beautiful home in Boca, Florida.  John still fills a bit empty.  So, for his 40th birthday, Jen gives him her blessing to take the reporter position in Philadelphia.

The gang packs up and moves north.  It doesn't take long before John realizes that he still feels empty.  Now he longs to be writing his silly column.  We just can't win with this guy.  Of course, by now Marley has grown quite old and starts to fall ill and lacks strength.  You know what is coming and I can't bring myself to say it.

The film is a bit long to get where it is going.  It felt sluggish in several parts.  But really, the most tiresome aspect is that John can't make up his mind about his career.  I have enough of that in my own life. I don't need it from the film as well.  He has a good paying job, a beautiful wife, three wonderful children and a loving dog.  What more does he want?

The video transfer of "Marley & Me" onto Blu-ray is adequate, but not memorable.  The black levels are strong, and contrast has been pumped to provide a more popping image.  There is minor overblown whites, but nothing to get in a twist over.  The colors get a bold rendering from the boosted contrast level.  The film's image suffers when it comes to skintones.  Jen and John's flesh always is far too copper.  The shadow delineation is good, but not extraordinary.  There is no evidence of compression or edge enhancement.  The details are not as strong as I would have liked.  Textures lack in a lot of the close-up sequences.  I was expected a bit more detail in Marley's fur coat.  Still, this is a good presentation, easily beating the standard DVD (which is also included in the Blu-ray package).

Likewise, the audio is good, but not memorable.  The dialogue is the main star and gets anchored in the center channel.  The dialogue remains clear and audible at all times.  The LFE channel does have much presence throughout this film, but it does have a couple of moments.  The surround channels are transparent.  There is information present in them, however it is never noticeable.  The rear channels contain a lot of audio bleed to create a more immersive audio experience.  There is no localization in the rear channels.  The dynamic range is not expansive but adequate for the material.  The frequency response is even.  The sibilants are never overpowering.  A bit more presence in the low end would have been nice.  This DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is more than enough to handle the sound design of "Marley & Me."

The Blu-ray package comes with a bunch of special features.  First up, there are more than 25 minutes of deleted scenes, with an optional director's commentary.  The deleted scenes contain some additional footage of the cute yellow lab puppies and the full-length conversation between Owen Wilson and Gloria Estefan.  The transition between each deleted scene is what makes the length of the deleted scenes section seem incredibly long.  Next there are five featurettes, all having to deal with Marley and animals: "Finding Marley," "Breaking the Golden Rule," "On Set with Marley: Dog of All Trades," "Animal Adoption" and "When Not to Pee."  Additionally there is a gag reel and a kind of fun dog training trivia track.  Dog lovers may actually find some useful tips in the trivia track.

There is a second and third disc present in the Blu-ray package.  The second disc is a DVD version of the film and the third disc contains a Digital Copy of the film for portable media players.  It looks as though Fox is following in Disney's three-pack footsteps.

"Marley & Me" is a cute movie but utterly depressing in the end.  At least the film's creators made an attempt at ending the movie with a happy thought.  Still, with what happens to Marley, there is no getting past it.  If I cried this much with this film, I can only imagine what is going to happen when it comes time for my own puppy to go.
Studio 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating PG
Starring Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner, Alan Arkin, Haley Bennett
Director David Frankel
Film Release Year 2008
Release Year 2009
Resolution(s) 1080p (main feature) • 1080p (supplements)
Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Running Time 1 hr. 55 mins.
Sound Formats English DTS-HD Master 5.1 • French Dolby Digital 5.1 • Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles Cantonese • Chinese • English SDH • Korean • Portuguese • Spanish
Special Features Deleted Scenes (Optional Director's Commentary); "Finding Marley"; "Breaking the Golden Rule"; "On Set with Marley: Dog of All Trades"; "Animal Adoption"; "When Not to Pee"; Gag Reel; Dog Training Trivia Track; DVD Edition of the Film; Digital Copy
Forum Link
Reviewer Noah Fleming

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