Knee-jerk review: "Marley & Me"

1. Way better that you think it will be. Way better than it probably should be.
2. It's quite good.
3. Be warned, though. By the closing credits, the theater will be filled with the sounds of sniffling. It's that kind of movie.
4. Which can be a very good thing.
5. A lot of movies try to explore the old adage about life being what happens to you while you're making plans. It's not an easy thing to dramatize. Life is boring. That's why we go to the movies. But this film succeeds about as well as any. There are no cops, no shootouts, no blood, no witty courtship dances. It's just a sophisticated, adult look at what happens when you're 40 years old and life hasn't followed the plan you had in mind when you were 20. It's about the simple joys and unexpected tragedies of life.
6. The PG-rating usually means simple-minded and dumb. Not here.
7. It's probably the best Owen Wilson's ever been. He's dialed down the quirky snark he typically uses as a crutch. He's playing a real character here.
8. Jennifer Aniston's good, as well. She's also a total babe. But we'll save that for another post.
9. Highlight of the movie is a very fresh, very energetic montage in which Owen Wilson's character tells us how he spends his weeks. You really don't expect this kind of bracing creativity in a big Hollywood movie.
10. Oh, yeah. And the dog is very cute.

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