Marley & Me
By Joly Herman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Touching comedy deals with emotional themes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Predictable for a dog-centric movie: "crap" and "poop." Other language includes "ass," "damn," and "goddamn."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
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.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
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).
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Marley & Me
Based on 107 parent reviews
For older kids!
Report this review
A Dull Movie With a Misleading Rating
Report this review
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?
- In theaters: December 25, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: March 31, 2009
- Cast: Eric Dane, Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson
- Director: David Frankel
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 123 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic material, some suggestive content and language
- Last updated: December 21, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Dog Movies for Kids
Best Animal Movies for Kids
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate