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January 06, 2009

"Marley and Me" (Movie rant and spoiler)

I'm interrupting my Blurb bookmaking workathon to bring you this public service message about the new "Marley and Me" movie. 

We're big fans of Marley and his adorable story is one of our bedtime favorites.  So when we heard that there was a movie coming out on Christmas day, we started getting the girls excited about seeing it.  We were pretty excited about it too until we caught wind of how it ended.  I should mention that we didn't know there was another book that this movie was based on.  We thought it was a story about the dog in the children's book.  It was certainly marketed as a family comedy. 

Marley and my kids - blog 
At first, we didn't believe such an ending was possible since it seemed unfathomable that a "family" movie about a precious (albeit precocious) puppy -- that opened on Christmas Day -- would be a movie that was guaranteed to reduce everyone in the audience to hysterical sobbing tears.   

How could they wrap that adorable golden lab puppy up in a red ribbon and spend 90 minutes making you fall in love with him just to kill him off near the end!?   Sure, we all understand about the circle of life but this was supposed to be a family movie, right?   You know, "family"... as in kids and stuff!?

We love Marley in this house.  He misbehaves but under all that shedding tan fur is a heart of pure gold.  He's the poster puppy for good intentions and our 4 year old girls can probably appreciate and relate to that and even love him a bit more because of all the trouble he causes. 

Somehow, I can't help but believe that they gain emotional strength from knowing that families stick together no matter how naughty someone might be.  Nobody is ever banished, expelled or excommunicated.  And certainly nobody is euthanized or otherwise removed from the family!

They're only four years old and they can't even begin to grasp the concept of loss on the level presented in this movie.  In their world, forever is just a smidgen after the moment they stop noticing how long something is taking.   When something they love goes away, it always reappears (unless it's a marshmallow or a chicken nugget and, in Gwen's case, those little treasures too frequently reappear anyway).  But, most importantly, Doctors always make you better.  They don't give you a shot that makes you die while your family stands around you and cries. 

How confusing would that be to a small child who is incapable of putting any of this into proper context?

I don't know why they presented this movie has a family movie. This is a movie for adults who want to be reminded of all the reasons they ever loved their dog or cat and all the reasons why they'll never stop missing them after they're gone.  That's a good thing but it's not a theme that small kids can appreciate. 

If you do take young kids to this movie, do what we did and leave right after the scene where everyone is playing in the snow.   That's a nice happy spot to end this story and you'll walk away with a full and happy heart instead of an aching head and a face full of salty tears.

Okay, I'm going back to working on my Blurb book now.  :)

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