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Marley & Me

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

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 101 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 192 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.


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.


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.


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


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).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byscreenmom81 October 12, 2009

Should have been PG-13--Parents of young children Beware!

Watched this movie alone one evening and could not BELIEVE how much sexual content it contained for a PG rating. I had to check the the rating twice because I t... Continue reading
Adult Written bykraber May 26, 2010

Good date night movie for mom and dad, NOT the kids

While I really liked this movie, it should have been PG-13 (at least) When a married couple discusses how long it's been since they've had sex, skinn... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 11, 2011

PG-13 Material

SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN RATED PG. The only bad thing is maybe half way into the movie, Jenny says, "why don't we stop trying-not to have a baby?" th... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byamandaluvsyooh June 17, 2010

Great For Tweens!

Don't let the cover fool you. It looks as well as sounds like a very kid-friendly movie, but I honestly thought it should have been one of those PG-13... 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

Themes & Topics

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