Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Marley and Me

Once again, an apology to Blogger for my words there. I stand corrected, as it figures I was pressing the wrong button to paste my word document onto the site. Also, despite my argument I am typing this directly into Blogger. H and I, Hypocrisy and Irony, I know. Alright, second movie here in my Reviews Bonanza, Marley and Me. It's funny, I review two "kids" movies, and they turn out to be completely different. One, an original and overlooked film which is wonderful, and another, a very stereotypical kids movie. However, can the stereotype kid's movie beat out the original kid's movie? You tell me, and depending on the answer, I may or may not tell otherwise. Anyway, the story, based on the bestselling memoirs of journalist John Grogan of the same name, goes that John and Jenny Grogan, portrayed by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston respectively, are newlyweds, and as a sort stepping stone towards parenthood, they get a dog, Marley, who just so happens to be the world's worst dog. However, despite the dog’s issues, to use words not dissimilar to that on the films blurb, "the world’s worst dog brings out the best in them." Shall we get started? Critics have been giving Marley and Me a number of different reactions. At best, Todd McCarthy of Variety says "Fox has a winner here" and Roger Ebert of the Chicago-Sun Times says "A cheerful family movie." At worst, Peter Bradshaw calls the film "Relentless gooey yuckiness and fatuous stereotyping" and Mark Kermode of The Culture Show simply says "Get a dog." Now don't get me wrong, Marley and Me is a lovely film with an absolutely brilliant cute dog, but I am definitely on the side of the latter two critics. It's funny that most of the critics who liked the film are American, not to be stereotypical, but does speak to the kind of audience who might eat this up. For starters, Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, who have proven that they can be good, are completely lost in the midst of all this. Despite the fact that this is a human tail, their performances come across as completely vacuous and absent-minded. Half the time in the film rather unfortunately I found myself wanting to touch Owen Wilson's nose to see if it would hurt him. This is not to slander his nose, I just sometimes find that in poor films with him, the only way I can keep myself entertained is to look at his nose. Its shape is absolutely fascinating. I guarantee, if anyone excavates Owen Wilson's grave in a few thousand years, if humans of the 21st Century are to be studied, Owen Wilson's nose would be revered as a holy relic and societies would be founded on the basis of Owen Wilson's nose as a totem. However, I would not say that the performances of Wilson and Aniston are their own fault but rather that of the screenwriters. Scott Frank and Don Roos deserve to thoroughly ashamed of themselves. I mean, Frank is the Academy-Award nominated screenwriter of Out Of Sight and Minority Report, so he should at least have some concept of good script, bad script. With Marley and Me, it does at least have a structure, although the montage sequences are not well structured. The dialogue is a completely different matter. The dialogue is so bad and unrealistic that it made me often want to smash my TV. The film does have scenes which are clearly meant to be emotional and harrowing, which are moving by the nature of their situations, however, with such rubbish dialogue. You can get away with being overly theatrical if you are trying to be, but this is the kind of movie that could quite easily be a parody of family movies with the dialogue that spews out of the characters mouths if it wasn't hammed up to the point where you have completely gnawed down your nails. The final person on the list of Marley and Me I-Hates is the director David Frankel. He really directs this film in a way that would suggest he simply isn't trying at all. It seems as though he trusts the actors to deliver the lines perfectly without any directorial input. Clearly Frankel out of all involved are completely unaware of the horribleness and stupidity of the films script. He simply was too trusting of the screenwriters, believing that the power of the source material would bring people in their throngs to cinemas, which it did, I won't lie. If I did, I think $242 million would disagree with me. Nonetheless, it doesn't change the fact that Marley and Me is a horrible movie. Despite having conjured my first audible sigh at three minutes in, the film, for all intents and purpose, is inoffensive fare. It does not claim to be a family movie under the guise of misogyny or corporate suits attempting to make money by using a certain “accessible” image. While I did not like the film, I think this is the films saving grace, and it is simply my opinion that the film is bad, and as such, the friendliness and lack of confrontation from the film stops it from being absolutely dreadful. Nonetheless, I believe it to be a really bad film, for which David Frankel, Don Roos and Scott Frank should be ashamed. It might be inoffensive, but a bad film is still a bad film.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 2.2/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Cross but could be worse

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