x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

@AL-ReviewBody:Marley & Me Director: David Frankel Starring: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane

@AL-ReviewBody:After the journalist John Grogan's tear-jerking memoir Marley & Me sold six million copies and stayed at the number one slot on the New York Times Best Seller list for 23 weeks, there was only one remaining certainty - a movie adaptation would be made. That film, which charts the 13-year life of a zany Labrador retriever called Marley and his profound effect on the lives of his owners, John (Owen Wilson) and Jennifer (Jennifer Aniston), and their subsequent three children, has already grossed more than $140 million (Dh514m) at the US box office. The story, clearly, has a popular appeal. Yet anyone who has read the book, and fallen, begrudgingly or otherwise, for its sporadic philosophical ruminations (Marley's encroaching death reminds John of life's brevity) or its powerful emotional uppercuts (Jennifer's miscarriage is handled beautifully) will be sorely tested by an achingly formulaic movie from the "wacky dog" school of family-friendly filmmaking - see Turner and Hooch, Beethoven and My Dog Skip. The movie's Marley breaks lamps, chews doors, pulls over tables and swallows necklaces, which is about as entertaining as it sounds, but nonetheless irks John and Jennifer, who have been given a phoney Hollywood arc: he doesn't want kids, she does, so he needs to, like, "mature". The biggest problem, however, is Marley himself (played by 22 different pooches). Dogs can't act. His big death scene is thus, nothing more than a dog lying down. As such, and at best, the movie is America's Wackiest Animals writ large.

* Kevin Maher