Where does the credit for this lie? I give some to screenwriters Scott Frank and Don Roos, whose credits include Out of Sight and The Opposite of Sex. They've taken John Grogan's book, which I haven't read, and fashioned an earnest screenplay from what I can only assume is a highly sentimental book. Of course, additional credit has to go to director David Frankel, who also helmed the surprisingly enjoyable The Devil Wears Prada. But I think you have to give most of the kudos to Owen Wilson, who gives a charming and very likable performance. Heck, maybe the guy's growing up. Whatever it is, he's really great. Jennifer Aniston is also good, but it's Wilson whose role is the stand-in for the audience and who has to do more heavy lifting, emotionally.
Let's just get one thing clear, though, and this is where your SPOILER WARNING will come in. The trailer and the ads for Marley are selling it as a laugh-a-minute cutesy movie about a family and their dog. Don't be fooled. You should know full well that the ending of this movie is very very sad. I don't mind telling you I was crying a bit, and might have shed more tears if I didn't work so hard to hold them in. I'm sure you can guess why it's sad, and I can say I've had first-hand experience with a dog of my own (that's Doc down below) meeting the same kind of fate, so that had something to do with my reaction. Thankfully, Frankel and co. do not overdo these parts. It's all very real and honest, not cloying. You'll be hard-pressed not to get caught up in the moment too, no matter how tough your exterior. Just be ready.
Yeah, call Marley & Me a real holiday surprise. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll run the gamut of emotions. And you'll be recommending this one to your friends, like I am doing right now. I'm giving Marley a strong B.