Marley and Me

If you've ever owned and loved a dog, be forewarned: This movie covers a span of about 14 years and you may already know the average lifespan of a golden lab.

That being said, I was very impressed by the caliber of acting from the principals. Both Jennifer Aniston ("Friends With Money" and "The Good Girl") and Owen Wilson ("You, Me and Dupree" and "Wedding Crashers") do an excellent job of depicting a real-life couple, Jennifer and John Grogan, as they adopt a rambunctious puppy and have to contend with, what John later calls in his newspaper column, "The World's Worst Dog."

When they try to enroll him in obedience class, the instructor, played by Kathleen Turner ("War of the Roses" and "Romancing the Stone") expels him! John's best friend, played by the ever handsome Eric Dane (mostly TV work, e.g., "Grey's Anatomy" and "Charmed") uses the lively dog to pick up girls on the beach (they live in Florida).

Both of the Grogans are journalists, she is slightly more successful than he, but she chooses to quit her job to have a family. To make up for her lost salary, his editor, played by Alan Arkin ("Get Smart" and an Academy Award for "Little Miss Sunshine") bribes him with double pay if he will write a regular column instead of work as a reporter. When he is stuck for a topic, he sometimes writes about his obstreperous dog...and they discover that the readers enjoy those columns a LOT! Unconvinced, he finally accepts a reporter's job in the Northeast, so they move their three children, AND Marley, to a new state, a new house and a new professional situation.

Through it all, Marley remains uncontrollable, playfully destructive and brimming over with exuberance.

This movie depicts marriage in a realistic way: the early passions, the distractions of children, the professional disappointments, but it never becomes tawdry or self-pitying. The actors do a great job of aging, with one minor exception: Both Aniston and Wilson are famous for their distinctive hair. During the entire movie, their hair never changes. A minor point, I admit, but I found it amusing.

The movie is based on Grogan's best-selling book by the same name, and we already know it is deeply involving, so bring tissues...