Check all your expectations or prejudices about dog movies at the ticket counter: "Marley & Me” is something else entirely. And don’t worry — this pooch doesn’t talk. Director David Frankel’s elegant adaptation of John Grogan’s memoir does justice to the rigors of marriage and adulthood without getting into histrionics or worst-case scenarios, and a yellow Labrador just happens to have a key supporting role.
"Marley & Me” begins in the early ’90s when newlywed journalists John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) move to Miami, Fla., and buy their first house. Like so many pre-parental couples, they decide to take a test run with a dog, and their choice is a cute puppy that the owner is suspiciously willing to part with at a bargain-basement price. Marley turns out to be a sweet-tempered terror who can destroy any piece of furniture, freaks out during rainstorms, confounds all attempts at discipline and breaks the wills of all good dog-sitters. But John’s newspaper column, which often focuses on Marley’s canine indiscretions, becomes a hit; his experiences as a husband, father and dog owner resonate far beyond his doorstep. Frankel, who cut his directorial teeth on "Sex & the City” and "Entourage” but proved his real mettle with 2006’s "The Devil Wears Prada,” is not a showy director, but he knows how to tell a story with grace.
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"Marley & Me”PG-13 2:00 *** Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson. (Thematic material, some suggestive content, language)