Marley & Me: 3-Disc Bad Dog Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (25th April 2009).
The Film

To be honest I never thought I'd enjoy "Marley & Me" as much as I did, from its marketing the film comes off as a chick flick comedy featuring the sugary Jennifer Aniston. Although I've been a dog person all my life even the film's cutesy poster couldn't persuade me to go see it theatrically. But after the film's credits rolled I was left pleasantly surprised and although "Marley & Me" is predicable and emotionally manipulative it was actually a pretty decent film and works so well mainly due to the natural chemistry of its stars.

"Marley & Me" tells the story of married couple John (Owen Wilson) and Jennifer Gorgan (Jennifer Aniston), the film follows the couple through the life of their dog, Marley. Over a fourteen year span we watch the couple grow, see their careers develop and contemplating having a family. Throughout this time their mischievous dog creates challenges for its owners, Marley eats a lot, destroys things, grows to be 100 pounds and is essentially untrainable but is loved immensely by the and remains the constant among their ever-changing lives.

At first glance the film is certainly more of a dramady than a comedy... in some ways the film's marketing was a little misleading, there's some laughs generated mainly by Marley's antics but mostly they are cute... especially Marley as a puppy. If you're a dog owner you'll find plenty of great moments spread throughout the film that'll put a smile on your face... equally so there's also some sad moments that'll bring some tears (the ending in particular with likely not leave a single dry eye in the house).

As mentioned before, the chemistry between the film's stars works well, I've always been partial to Owen over his brother... I enjoyed his melancholic turn as Eli Cash in "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001) and as Ned Plimpton in "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" (2004) and I actually found him funny in "Shanghai Noon" (2000) and its sequel "Shanghai Knights" (2003). He's less funny here and more straight-laced but for the tone of the film it fits perfectly. He and Aniston are believable as the Gorgan's and their relationship is well developed throughout the film's timeline. Aniston seems more in her element in this film and films like "The Good Girl" (2002) over her romantic comedies and even her more dramatic films like the terrible "Derailed" (2005).

While the film focuses on the relationship of the film's stars, their lives, their careers (and on John using his dog's antics as inspiration for his articles) and their contemplation of having a family, the drama of Jennifer's miscarriage followed through to her getting pregnant a second time and welcoming their baby... but the film's most surprisingly performance comes from the dogs cast as Marley (22 dogs were used to the dog over the fourteen year spans of the film). Despite the havoc wrecked by Marley, that dog is far too adorable and manages to keep you glued to the screen... probably more so than either Wilson or Aniston (even the studio thought so making Marley the focus on the posters and even the cover art of this Blu-ray set).

The film plays out in an engaging manner, but for all the fluffy dog stuff and the drama concerning both John and Jennifer, the film was obvious, occasionally predictable and emotionally manipulative... "Marley & Me" plays on your feelings and tugs pretty damn hard on your heart strings. At times the film doesn't really seem to know what it wants to be, it's lighthearted and funny, then it's a little darker and more dramatic, then the finale act is filled with tears. These could be considered the major problems (don't forget the misleading marketing too) with the film. However, I was still surprised at how much I liked the film, and it'll appeal to all sorts of audiences even those that have never learned the joys (or frustrations) of dog ownership.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 this transfer comes to Blu-ray in high-definition 1080p 24/fps and has been mastered using AVC MPEG-4 compression. The film's warm tones come out well throughout this image, which is also clean and rather pleasing to the eye. The film's colors look good, skin tones are natural and black levels are deep. The transfer displays depth and texture relatively well, and there's some light grain. The transfer is clear of any dirt or specks, which is expected considering it's a relative recent film. Furthermore the film's transfer was free from compression problems and edge-enhancement. Overall it's a pretty good image.

Audio

Fox has released this film with four audio tracks, they include English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit as well as standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks in French, Portuguese and Spanish. The film's primarily dialogue based and while the film's audio maintains a front heavy perspective for the most part I was pleased with the depth the lossless track afforded. The ambient sounds are subtle and utilize the surround channels well as does the film's score. There's some good range displayed here but it never feels overbearing. It's a subtle yet effective mix that seems to present the film suitably well.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean.

Extras

Fox has included some deleted scenes, five featurettes, a gag reel, a trivia track as well as a DVD and digital copy version of the film as extras on this 3-disc set. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

DISC ONE:

The disc includes a 19 deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by director David Frankel, the scenes are a collection of predominantly extended scenes of one that are already in the film. The scenes run for a total of 25 minutes 58 seconds and can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option. The commentary from the director primarily explains what is happening in the scene and doesn't really provide an insight into why the scenes were trimmed or omitted from his perspective. By looking at the scenes however, some are obviously too long and required the trim and others are easily left out of the film without missing too much. The scenes in question are: "Boca House", "Animal Rescue-Extended Scene", "Pick Up Pup", "This Is Our Home", "Pee Lesson", "Ate The Tire", "Fixing Marley-Extended Version", "Estefan Interview-Extended Version", "I’m Pregnant-Extended Version", "Poop Try", "Awkward Irish AM", "To The Hospital", "Hero Marley", "Goodbye Lisa", "Crying Baby", "Angry Neighbor", "Meet Billy Cole", "Marley Comes Home" and finally "Marley’s Spot".

Next up is the "Finding Marley" featurette which runs for 7 minutes 48 seconds, in this clip we get to see the search for the dogs and the use of the various dogs that play Marley through the course of the film. As mentioned in the review there were 22 dogs that played our K9 friend as the filmmakers comment on them, their excitement and on working with animals.

"Breaking the Golden Rule" featurette is next and runs for 8 minutes 2 seconds, the golden rule in the title refers to the filmmaking adage to never work with animals (or children) as they can be hard to control and will cause more problems on set. In this clip we are treated to a brief EPK clip that features interviews with the key cast and crew about the film and covers the story, characters etc. There's plenty of back-patting here and the viewer gets a general sense of how great this film is... boring.

Following that is the "On Set with Marley: A Dog of All Trades" featurette which runs for 2 minutes 36 seconds, this clip tries to be funny by interviewing one of the dogs that plays Marley and features subtitles as the dog's answers to questions. It's short and forgettable... move on.

"Animal Adoption" featurette runs for 5 minutes 19 seconds and is basically a PSA from AdoptAPet.com, and basically informs us on how we can adopt a pet from a shelter.

"When Not To Pee" featurette runs for 2 minutes 17 seconds, these are basically outtakes from the film that also feature some narration from the film's director. It's pretty funny and looks at how an unexpected moment wound up in the finished film.

The disc also features a fairly generic gag reel which runs for 5 minutes 40 seconds and includes the usual footage seen in these reels, cast members flubbing lines, missing cues and generally having fun on camera among other things. It's worth a look once but that's about it.

Finally there's a Blu-ray exclusive extra in the form of a BonusView "Dog Training" trivia track for profile 1.1 players or greater. The total runtime of this feature is 17 minutes 12 seconds as this trivia pops up as you watch the film.

DISC TWO:

This is a DVD movie-only edition of the film.

DISC THREE:

The only extra on this disc is a digital copy of the film for portable video devices.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: C+ Overall: B

 


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