Even for a Hollywood film opening on Christmas Day, Marley & Me is remarkably unchallenging. Based on the memoir by John Grogan, Marley is a tribute to the family dog, and the film's events stack up in increasingly average, predictable piles of chewed-upon Americana.
Owen Wilson stars as Grogan, alongside an unsexy, unlikeable Jennifer Aniston as his wife Jennifer. The film begins as the just-married couple strikes out to Florida, where Grogan's exciting friend Sebastian (Eric Dane) advises him to buy Jen a dog to delay her maternal pangs. This is the last useful piece of advice Sebastian offers before leaving Grogan in the dust of a successful, globetrotting career, leaving the audience futilely wishing they were following his trajectory instead.
The adorable naughty-dog scenes that make up most of Marley & Me's trailer quickly give way to the couple aging, producing children, and moving to a cozy house in the suburbs. To its credit, this is a much graver film than its marketing suggests, though marred by melodramatic pap. Still, though, it's a trans-generational safe bet if you need to get everyone out of the house during the holidays, so in that sense, it serves some purpose.