Marley & Me

Movie review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
Marley & Me Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Touching comedy deals with emotional themes.
  • PG
  • 2008
  • 123 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 105 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 200 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Shows the challenges of caring for and training a high-maintenance pet and how it can bring out the worst in some people, but also how difficult situations can bring families together.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sebastian is a womanizer, and he uses props to entice women whenever he can -- including using Marley as babe bait and even pushing a stroller over to a comely woman for attention. Marley can bring out less-than-honorable behavior in people. His misbehavior prompts John to call him "the worst dog in the world" and causes Jenny to demand that he be taken from the house and put in a shelter.

Violence

Marley's out-of-control behavior isn't violent, per se, but he wreaks havoc wherever he goes. A neighbor has been attacked in one scene -- viewers don't see the violence, but she suffers a knife wound, implying the violence that befell her.

Sex

Though no sexual activity is explicitly shown, it's implied, especially in a creaky bed at an Irish inn. Content relating to reproduction (getting pregnant, miscarriage, birth control) might be too mature for younger viewers. Some shots of women in bikinis on the beach; a supporting character has lots of lecherous maneuverings. Jenny swims seductively in the nude, enticing John to collect his "birthday present." Marley humps the dog trainer's leg.

Language

Predictable for a dog-centric movie: "crap" and "poop." Other language includes "ass," "damn," and "goddamn."

Consumerism

Jenny and John pursue the American dream: a nice house in a good neighborhood, a nice car, a big trip, etc. But the pursuit is also a struggle, and viewers see how John and Jenny sacrifice to gain the material pleasure that they eventually achieve. Specific products/brands shown/mentioned include Volvo, the Philadelphia Enquirer and the New York Times.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

John mentions having taken bong hits in his youth. John and Sebastian usually bond over a beer. Parties involve drinking wine or champagne.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although the lighter side of this family-targeted dramedy was played up in the initial marketing campaign, it tackles serious themes like loss and mourning. While Marley's rambunctious antics will certainly amuse kids, there's some emotionally challenging material here. On the up side, there's not a lot of other problematic content; language is mild ("ass" and "damn") and sexuality is more implied than shown, though the characters do discuss topics like getting pregnant, and there's one nude swimming scene (but nothing much is on display).

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byFooPets fare March 8, 2010

Depends on the type of kid, but overall an amazing movie.

I rated it 10+ because it really depends on what a parent wants a kid seeing, and what kind of kid it is. For example, my five year-old sister has seen it no pr... Continue reading
Parent of a 7, 7, and 10-year-old Written bysarahkfullerton April 7, 2019

For older kids!

I’m glad I had “the talk” with my 10-year-old before watching this movie! A lot of grown up topics came up: trying to get pregnant, miscarriage, a couple of sex... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 8, 2010
There is quite a bit of mature content for a PG movie. It might go over some kids' heads, but there is enough for them to ask questions about it. Sad mov... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBecca90210 July 20, 2020

The most adorable and sad movie ever

This movie is hilarious! There are tons of funny parts that will make you laugh, but also serious parts that will make you sad, it's such a roller coaster... Continue reading

What's the story?

Newlywed journalists John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny Grogan (Jennifer Aniston) leave Michigan winters behind in favor of Florida's sunnier climes, where they find themselves struggling to gain footing. When Jenny starts talking about a family, John asks his bachelor friend Sebastian (Eric Dane) for advice on how to distract her. Sebastian suggests a puppy -- and so Marley comes tumbling into their lives. As the rambunctious dog destroys their house, their car, and their social interactions, John decides to use his antics as fodder for his new newspaper column. His editor (Alan Arkin) loves the stuff, and John becomes a fixture in the South Florida journalism scene. Meanwhile, Jenny announces that she's pregnant, and their family drama unfolds in its tragicomic glory.

Is it any good?

Based on John Grogan's book, the heartwarming MARLEY AND ME successfully portrays what it's like when an abnormally exuberant family member takes center stage. Because, make no mistake, Marley is a full-fledged member of the Grogan family. Though he tests every limit possible -- chewing through the last threads of their patience and human dignity -- Marley teaches the Grogans about loyalty and undying love.

Audiences might be surprised at the emotional power that the film packs -- especially because it's being marketed as a family comedy -- but the effect is gratifying and real. And though Wilson and Aniston take a little while to hit their stride as a couple, overall the movie is a pretty seamless depiction of the arc of family life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how challenging behavior can be frustrating but can also help families bond. When Marley destroys a couch or eats a beloved piece of jewelry, his owners fret over their material loss. But in the end, he's brought them together in a way that his absence wouldn't have allowed. 

  • Are there members of your family whose behavior pushes limits? How much is too much?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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