Marley & Me: 3-Disc Bad Dog Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
March 28, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“Moving, enjoyable and heartbreaking! Are you ready for for a film that is one heck of an emotional rollercoaster? ‘Marley & Me’ is no doubt going to make the dog lover in you, laugh and cry!”
TITLE: Marley & Me: 3-Disc Bad Dog Edition
DURATION: 115 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio, Spanish/French/Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Surround, AVC@28MBPS. 500 GB Dual Layer, Widescreen 2:35:1, Color
COMPANY: 20th Century Fox
RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2009
Directed by David Frankel
Screenplay by Scott Frank and Doon Roos
Based on the Book by John Grogan
Produced by Karen Rosenfelt and Gil Netter
Executive Producers: Arnon Milchan, Joe Caracciolo Jr.
Director of Photography: Florian Ballhaus
Production Designer: Stuart Wurtzel
Film Editor: Mark Livolsi, A.C.E.
Music by Theodore Shapiro
Music Supervisor: Julia Michels
Costume Designer: Cindy Evans
Owen Wilson as John Grogan
Jennifer Aniston as Jennifer Grogan
Eric Dane as Sebastian
Kathleen Turner as Ms. Kornblut
Alan Arkin as Arnie Klein
Nathan Gamble – Patrick – Age 10
Halley Bennett – Lisa
Finley Jacobsen – Conor – Age 8
Lucy Merriam – Colleen – Age 5
Bryce Robins – Patrick – Age 7
Benjamin Hyland – Conor – Age 5
Packed with playful special features, including tons of deleted scenes, irresistible featurettes, Marley & Me is a satisfying treat for the whole family! Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson unleash huge laughs as John and Jenny Grogan, a young couple contemplating the decision to have a baby. Then came Marley…an adorable Labrador pup who flunks obedience school and quickly turns his new home into a disaster area. But as mischievous Marley sees the Grogans through the ups and downs of life and love, they ultimately realize that “the world’s worst dog” truly brings out the best in them.
Moving, enjoyable and heartbreaking! Are you ready for for a film that is one heck of an emotional roller coaster? ‘Marley & Me’ is no doubt going to make the dog lover in you, laugh and cry!
“Marley & Me” is film based on a New york Times bestselling autobiographical book by journalist John Grogan in 2005. The film is directed by David Frankel (“The Devil Wears Prada” and has directed television episodes for “Entourage “, “Sex and the City” and “Band of Brothers” with a screenplay by Scott Frank (“The Intepreter”, “Minority Report”) and Don Roose (“Bounce”, “Single White Female”).
The film is about John Grogan (Owen Wilson) and Jennifer Grogan (Jennifer Aniston), two writers who are just married and they begin their years as reporters in Florida. But before they have any children, Jennifer starts off with plants and then the couple move on to adopting a golden retriever who John names Marley (after reggae legend Bob Marley).
Marley is an active, always hungry, strong, quick and somewhat of a hyper dog who loves attention from his owners. Of course, this leads Marley to causing a lot of trouble from breaking things in the home, eating the cushions of pillows and the couch, in one scene eating a gold necklace given as a present from John to Jennifer and even getting kicked out of obedience school. But despite the trouble he may have caused, both John and Jennifer love Marley as part of the family.
But the overall film features on the 13-years of the Grogan family and growing up with Marley. So, you get to see difficulties as the family grows. As Jennifer becomes a mother and housewife and trying to cope not being a professional, while John who has had many opportunities to go farther into his career, needs to focus more on his work in order to give his family a good life and to live in a good area away from crime. But of course, with Jennifer with the kids all the time and John working, it puts a stress in their relationship. And earlier on when the children are babies, Marley who would bark at every noise he hears outside would cause Jennifer much more anguish as once she puts the children to sleep, Marley wakes them up.
But over the years, the children grow up and life changes for the family as more opportunities come but as gets older, you get to see the changes of Marley. From the boisterous puppy to the older golden retriever with white hair and barely try to go on a walk.
What works for this film is that it strikes the right chords for any couple or family that has had a pet in their life and knowing the love (and sometimes trouble) that a pet could bring into ones life, but cherishing the moment that the pet is with you, just like a family member. From the beginning of when they were puppies to the end of a dog’s life.
“Marley & Me” is given special treatment in the Blu-ray release from 20th Century Fox as we are given a total of three discs. The first disc is the Blu-ray, the second disc is a DVD and the third is a digital copy of the film.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Marley & Me” looks absolute beautiful on Blu-ray. With so much of the film shot outdoors and during the day and in a variety of locations capturing the beach life, the rains and even snow in Philadelphia, the film is just vibrant in colors and with the video featured in widescreen 2:35:1 at 1080p, overall I was impressed of how vibrant this film looked. Director of Photography Florian Ballhaus has experience shooting beautiful scenes from working on a film like “Devil Wears Prada” to working on television series such as “Sex and the City”. He manages to capture the mood, the action and the whole vibe of Florida and then later in Philadelphia. There were a lot of shots filmed for “Marley & Me”, especially during a segment where the film tries to explain how the couple has grown and as does Marley. Overall, “Marley & Me” is very colorful and beautiful picture quality.
As for audio, audio is presented in DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio. The film is primarily a dialogue-based film but also utilizes a great deal of music. So, you really get a good projection from your front channel and center speakers when it comes to hearing the audio. The Blu-ray also comes with the Spanish, French and Portuguese audio track in 5.1 Dolby Surround.
The film is subtitled in Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Portuguese.
For the special features of “Marley & Me”, the following features are included on the Blu-ray Disc:
- Dog Training Trivia Track – When this is selected, you can watch the film with pop up trivia and facts about dogs. Plus picture-in-picture videos with interviews with the trainers of the 22 dogs used in the film.
- 19 Deleted Scenes With Director, David Frankel Commentary – About 26 minutes in all, the deleted scenes features optional commentary by Director David Frankel. Deleted scenes include shots with Marley as a puppy but since the focus was to showcase the family and Marley grown up, the puppy scenes were cut. Also, scenes with the couple’s neighbors were deleted due to pacing and also what was important in the storyline.
- Finding Marley featurette – An eight minute featurette with an Interview with trainer Mark Forbes and other trainers in regarding using 22 dogs who were Marley. Half were puppies and half were older dogs. Some were able to do scenes such as peeing on cue, humping on cue, etc.
- Breaking the Golden Rule featurette – An eight minute featurette featuring interviews with Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Kathleen Turner and others in regarding to working with children, working with dogs, about raising families and what made “Marley & Me” special.
- On Set with Marley: Dog of All Trades featurette – A near three minute featurette featuring an interview with Marley. An interviewer interviews Marley with text bubbles shown above the dog.
- Animal Adoption featurette – A five minute featurette about animal adoption with an interview with Dr. Pia Salk and tips on adopting a dog and also how purebreds can be found at animal shelters and how many shelters have improved over the years.
- Gag Reel – A six minute gag reel featuring the group having fun on set and messing up on their lines.
- When Not to Pee featurette– A two minute featurette about the segment featuring Marley having to pee in the Grogan’s home after they return from Ireland. The film used two dogs. Clyde as the primary dog during this segment. But since he can not pee on cue, the golden lab Brody was used. The film was difficult to shoot and the featurette was about how difficult it was to get that one shot.
I have to admit that watching “Marley & Me” was very difficult (mainly at the end).
Like the Grogan couple, I’m sure many couples can put themselves in the shoes of the Grogan’s of raising dogs before children and for many years, the dog is part of your family and over the years, watching the animal grow. But it’s when the dog gets older and you notice how difficult it becomes for them to walk, to jump and its a very sad situation to watch your dog struggling to do things that you would remember them doing for so many years. But of course, it’s the saying goodbye to your dog when it’s their time, that makes it so difficult and from my situation with my dog, it was nearly the exact same situation. The feeling of being powerless but knowing that you want your dog to no longer suffer.
So, “Marley & Me” is a moving, hilarious and heartbreaking film. It’s definitely an emotional roller coaster of a film that you probably will want to have the tissue box nearby because if you are a pet owner or have lost a pet, those emotions will just come back and tug at your heart.
As for the acting, personally I found Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston fun to watch onscreen. I’ve read a few reviews of the film when it was first released and it seems you have those who had pets really enjoying the film and those who never had pets wanting to see more focus on the couple. Both talents have always been known for their work in romantic comedies but both had significant emotional scenes and for the most part I feel the pulled it off. For Owen Wilson, you get that sense of sarcastic bad boy from his “Bottle Rocket” to “Wedding Crashers” years but in the end, I felt he did a good job.
The film is not a film that has a deep storyline or a significant plot. It’s a story about life and a couple starting off as a married couple, raising a dog before they have children, the complications of balancing job and parental duties and financial worries. These are experiences that many people can easily understand.
If there was anything that I did have a problem with the film is that at 115 minutes, it was a bit long. And the fact that the film had so many deleted scenes, it could have gone longer. But I’m sure it was difficult for Director David Frankel to decide what to edit out. Because there were some deleted scenes that go into character development of John, Jennifer and even the neighbors and so, for pacing reasons, a lot was cut out already. After watching the film, I wouldn’t know where would I begin to cut out 10-15 minutes more.
Also, another problem was having Eric Dane’s character of Sebastian who was important in the first half, all of a sudden being thrown into the second half. Personally, it was scene that could have easily eliminated a bit of time in the final cut but I suppose the director wanted to show the difference of what if John chose career over family and pursued a similar life that Sebastian has lived.
But overall, I enjoyed “Marley and Me”. And on Blu-ray, the film really shines because high definition brings out the vibrancy of the film. It’s a colorful film and it just looks absolutely beautiful on Blu-ray.
Bundled with plenty of special features and the fact that the film does come with a DVD (for those long commutes for the family) and also a digital copy, you definitely get a good deal with this Blu-ray release and I can only hope that 20th Century Fox continues with the 3-disc treatment for their Blu-rays (as long as it’s priced affordably for the consumer).
There have been quite a good number of dog films with a similar feel of growing up with a dog such as the Japanese film “Quill” (which I highly recommend) and the film “My Dog Skip”. But “Marley & Me” is a film that is just fun to watch but also is going to make you cry.
I enjoyed the film and if you are a dog owner/lover, I think that you will enjoy this film too! “Marley & Me: 3-Disc Bad Dog Edition” is definitely recommended!
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