A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This isn't an educational movie, but kids will learn about how owning a dog requires responsibility, patience, and consistency.
Positive themes about teamwork, respect, and hard work. Bodi is a bit flaky until his grandfather reminds him that once you "commit," you "can't quit," and that if you work hard enough, you'll see results.
Positive Role Models
Bodi commits to his plan to train the seemingly untrainable Marley and the two neighborhood puppies. Bodi's relationship with his grandfather is a good example of multi-generational bonding at its best. A German character is portrayed stereotypically.
Violence & Scariness
Cartoonish pratfalls lead to general mayhem, but no one is injured. The German owner of the first-place dogs keeps them in line with a high-tech leash that delivers electrical shocks to the dogs. The dogs face henchmen ordered to get rid of them, but they outsmart the goons.
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A few uses of "stupid," "butt," "mutt," and the like. There are several mentions of dogs passing gas.
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Products & Purchases
SPAM, Twinkies, Purina Puppy Chow, Hummer, IBM laptop, GoPet dog accessories, and other products are either part of the story (SPAM is a puppy favorite) or prominently featured during the movie.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this direct-to-video sequel to Marley & Me isn't anywhere near as emotionally wrenching as that family drama was. Also unlike the original movie, this one features a talking Marley and has a central teen character (a temporary dog sitter). A sweet grandfather-grandson relationship is depicted, and the importance of being a responsible pet owner is emphasized. The movie is appropriate for kindergarteners and up, but there are a few insulting words ("stupid," "lazy butt") and several dog-fart jokes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
MARLEY & ME: THE PUPPY YEARS is an example of a sweet but ultimately unnecessary addition to the genre. But of course, Hollywood executives know very well that talking animals automatically attract pet-loving kids and their families. Marley is, as we witnessed in the original movie, an out-of-control puppy. But as if his own shenanigans aren't enough, here the filmmakers have created two more spunky canines to get in on the pranks. Kids will be amused -- the dogs are voiced by kids, do funny tricks, talk about farts, and are undeniably cute to look at -- but grown-ups will be underwhelmed by the paper-thin plot.
To pad out the lightweight storyline, the audience is introduced to a maniacal German dog-owner who's trying to sabotage the puppy competition, so his three pups will come out on top again. Hans (Alex Zahara) is stereotypically German and can't stand to lose; he even serves his dogs sauerkraut and sausage. Frankly, the best part of this movie is seeing veteran Canadian actor Rhodes -- who played the acerbic, chain-smoking Dr. Cottle on Battlestar Galactica -- again. The multi-generational banter between him and his on-screen grandson is refreshing (usually we're treated to kids complaining about their ancient, out-of-touch elders), but it's not enough to add any depth or emotion to this bland sequel. Still, if you're looking for an amusing but forgettable DVD diversion, this will do the trick for the kids.
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.