Marley And Me: The Puppy Years

The mutt-centric dramady, Marley And Me, was a huge hit at the box office; there’s nothing people love more than dogs getting up to no good, is there? However, there were several things that really upset audiences. Firstly, the puppy years were over too quickly. Secondly, there was just far too much attention on Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, those pesky camera-hogging humans! Thirdly, the dog died, which led to millions of tears being shed worldwide. Boo hoo, we all thought. Marley is dead. MARLEY IS DEAD! How can we ever feel good about anything ever again?

Cue Marley And Me: The Puppy Years, a fun kids prequel which swiftly rectifies the situation. Marley is alive and well, a young puppy with an away-from-home adventure (bye bye, Wilson and Aniston!) that will satisfy even the most hardcore doggy fans out there. And, as Marley chatters away in that familiarly frisky voice, we come to realise that… wait, what?

Right. Marley can talk now. That was unexpected but, to be honest, it’s high time we got his point of view across to the camera. Need I remind us of the original film, in which Marley was cruelly silenced by Wilson and Aniston, who monopolised almost all of the good lines? Exactly. It’s Marley’s turn now. And, boy, does he have a LOT to say with that moving CGI mouth of his.

Marley is being watched over by Bodi (Turner) and the pair are sent to spend some time with grandpa Fred (Rhodes). Bodi wants a dog of his own. Badly. But his mother, villainous witch that she is, doesn’t think that he’s responsible enough, so he strikes a deal with her. If he can train Marley in just four days then he can have a dog. She agrees. WHAT ARE YOU DOING BODI!? DON’T YOU KNOW THAT MARLEY IS THE MOST MISBEHAVED DOG IN THE WORLD?! Ahem. Luckily, chance would have it that there’s a dog competition involving an obstacle course pretty close by. Guess who gets entered?

If you were worried that there weren’t going to be enough puppies in this movie, you’d be wrong. Marley teams up with Fuschia (Lavoie) and Moose (Grantham), neighbourhood hounds who come to blows with a group of miniature Doberman Pinscher puppies. Those mini Doberman Pinschers will stop at NOTHING to win… but they’re still cute, so don’t worry about them spoiling the aesthetic of the flick.

Ruff-going for normal people (like me) but paw-fect for puppy fans everywhere, this story of friendship has far more in common with Disney’s Snow Buddies than it does Marley And Me. Saccharine shots of puppies (in swimming pools, in goggles, in a bed of flowers…) reduces the film to nothing more than a collection of moving pictures. Who needs a screensaver, eh? The human characters are wooden, with little depth or emotion, and the plot is easily predictable. But the pack of speaking puppies will charm the socks off of younger audiences, making this the perfect stocking-filler for mini mutt lovers everywhere. Just don’t offer to sit down and watch it with them…

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