It all sounds like good clean fun, and for the most part, it is. However, I had two problems with the movie:
Problem 1. The ending. The movie is roughly 90 minutes long. Watch about the first hour. More specifically, get to the point where the family moves to Pennsylvania and enjoys their first snow fall. At the end of that scene, grab your DVD remote, click stop, eject the DVD, put it in the case, put the case back in your bookshelf, and enjoy your evening. The rest of the movie is Marley gets old, Marley gets sick, and Marley dies.
We saw this in the theater around Christmas when it came out. My sister and her family, including my 8 year old nephew had been out for the week. Of course my nephew loved playing with Couper (and Godiva too) and of course Couper was having the time of his life playing and didn’t know when to stop. By the end of the week Couper was exhausted. He was also throwing up, had diarrhea, and was very lethargic. We were afraid that he hurt his back and/or was having a re-occurrence of stomach problems that had plagued him the previous summer and fall. He was scheduled to see the vet the morning after we went to the movie. So I was already worried about a vet visit and concerned about Couper getting old and/or being hurt.
Right before the movie, we went to the puppy store in the mall. Being that it was Christmas time, I had been in the mall way too many times in the past month. There was a little male dachshund in the store that Couper’s Mommy and I kept seeing. Usually puppies get bought or cycled out, especially around Christmas, but this one was still there. At four months old, he was starting to get a little old for the store. So, when we stopped in the store that night (by law, we have to stop in the puppy store when we go to the mall), there he was again. We were sad that nobody had picked him up for Christmas. However, on the way out, we noticed that a family had taken our little dachshund out of the window and was playing with him in one of the rooms. We spent the next five minutes talking about how we hoped that family bought him.
So, going into the movie, I was already way too emotional about dogs. Finally, as the movie started I had a horrible thought. I remember having read the book and I thought to myself, “Uh oh, I’m not going to like the ending to this”. When I read the book, I stopped reading a scene beyond where I just told you to stop the movie. In that scene Owen and Marley go for their usual walk, but Marley can’t continue half way through and Owen has to carry Marley home. I was reading the book in a public place, and I knew if I read any further I was going to break down. I closed the book, removed the bookmark, brought it home, put it on the bookshelf, and enjoyed my evening.
In the theater, I began getting ahead of the film. How far are they going to go? This is a family film opening on Christmas; they can’t take the story to the end, right? How am I going to make it through this if they do take it to the end? The opening credits weren’t done, and I was already on the verge of crying.
They took it to the end. And I pretty much didn’t make it through it. The last half hour was among the most excruciating half hours I can remember. And even though I was a mess going into the movie, if you don’t cry at the end of this movie, you likely have no soul. Of course the movie spares no opportunity to make sure you cry. My questions to the producers/directors: Did we have to see the injection? Did we have to see Marley being put in the ground? Did we have to see the kids covering him with dirt? Do you even like dogs? Or your audience?
Problem 2. The plot sounds a little familiar does it not? Replace Owen and Jen with me and Couper’s Mommy. Replace writers with whatever it is we do for a living (I forget sometimes). Replace a yellow lab with two dachshunds. Replace a popular award winning newspaper column with a much neglected blog. Replace failing obedience school with passing puppy kindergarten as the only entrant. It is practically the same thing. I demand retribution for the theft of my story!
The theatrical release of Marley and Me made $215M at the box office. That is not including book sales, DVD releases, cable licensing, Pay Per View, and merchandise. What will we do with all that money? Make a movie of course. Since I am sure our new friends at the movie studios do not want to market a film called Couper’s Poop, so we’ll settle on calling it Couper, Godiva, and Us.
Who will we get to star in this blockbuster?
Couper and Godiva: Couper and Godiva. Yes, we are making screen stars out of our puppies. More money in our pockets. Hollywood will have to work their CGI magic to make them puppies. We are not splitting our piece of the pie with high priced doggie actors. Need more money to make it work, sue Grogan again.
Couper’s Mommy: Jennifer Aniston. I know, she played the similar role in Marley and Me. However, Couper’s Mommy likes Jennifer Aniston. I also envision that Jen is at the phase of her career where she plays a string of roles as the girlfriend/wife dog owner; just with different breeds each time.
For fun, let’s fast forward to the red carpet at the 2012 Oscars. Jen and her date Bubbles the Chimp has an accidental meeting with Brad and Angie. I think it goes something like this:
Jen: Excuse me. Oh, hello Brad. Hello Angelina.
Brad: Hi Jen
Angie: Hello Jennifer. Whatever are you doing here?
Jen: I am presenting this year. Best Director for an Animated Short…
Angie: Thanks for asking. Yes I was nominated again. Best Lead Actress for my work in Friends The Movie. I play Rachel Green. The critics adored me...said I brought depth and complexity to a previously dull one-dimensional character. Brad! Eyes front and center! I am the only starlet on the carpet! That Miley Cirus is barely legal! Anyhow, Jennifer, are you still working?
Jen: Um, yes. I just wrapped a movie where I play the wife of a Corgi owner called Corky and I. I start filming a movie next month where I am the wife of a Shih tzu owner called Shitzy and Myself.
Angie: Yes, my dress is stunning, thanks for noticing. It is a…Brad!!! Stop ogling that slut Jessica Alba! She is nothing but a home wrecker!!!
Jen: Yeah, uh, good luck…
Big Buddy: The late Bert Convey. Hollywood is going to have to work its magic again, but really there was nobody as versatile as the underrated Convey. In the 1970s and 80s if you needed someone to play the bad guy on Charlie’s Angels, you called Bert Convey. If were the producers of the Love Boat and you needed a swinging bachelor who had to decide which Landers sister to marry, you called Bert Convey. If you needed somebody to tell a few jokes and belt out a song or two on the Dinah Shore Show, you called Bert Convey. If you needed someone to wear a bad sweater and trade yucks with Dom Deluise on Win Lose or Draw, you called Bert Convey. So in 2010, if you need somebody who can play the owner of two dachshunds, you dig up the late Bert Convey.
We may not actually get such great actors for our film, but no matter what, our film will end better than Marley and Me.
Side Note 1: Couper turned out to be fine. Turns out he was just exhausted and a little dehydrated. Just for good measure, on the morning we were to go to the vet, Godiva had the worst looking diarrhea I ever saw. It was like eight colors. Given all the unknowns that she chews on and eats (pretty much anything she can get her jowls around), it is amazing she does not have diarrhea more often. So, we figured while we were going to the vet, we would bring her along too. She was fine as well. However, her poop cost us an extra $100. Nice timing Godiva!
Side Note 2: The next time we went to the puppy store at the mall, our dachshund puppy was gone. We are sticking with the theory that the family that looked at him that night bought him.
Side Note 3: The only other time I cried openly at the movies also involved my sister. She took me to Snoopy Come Home when I was 6 years old. The plot essentially is that Snoopy is called back by his previous owner, a little girl who is in the hospital. Charlie Brown and the gang have a big farewell party for Snoopy and all the characters start bawling. I completely lost it. My sister had to take me out to the lobby to settle me down. I probably should not be allowed to go to dog movies. The only time I remember weeping after a movie was when I saw Cocktail, and the theater manager would not give me my $5 back.
Side Note 4: This review is based solely on the theatrical release of the movie. I have no plans on getting the DVD. I am fairly certain that I will not be getting it as a present. The DVD may have fun extras or a “Family Cut” or whatever they do to DVDs. I don’t know and will not find out.