Marley & Me: The Puppy Years

 
Marley sequel better for kids but less memorable than first.
  • Review Date: August 16, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 86 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

This isn't an educational movie, but kids will learn about how owning a dog requires responsibility, patience, and consistency.

Positive messages

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.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language

A few uses of "stupid," "butt," "mutt," and the like. There are several mentions of dogs passing gas.

Consumerism

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.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Anyone familiar with the original Marley & Me knows that the uncontrollable yellow Lab (here voiced by Grayson Russell) belongs to John and Jenny Grogan. But to facilitate this straight-to-video companion film, the Grogans are on a writing assignment and need their nephew Bodi (Travis Turner) to dog sit their puppy. Bodi's workaholic mom, Carol (Chelah Horsdal), is heading out of town for a leadership conference, so she drops Bodi and Marley off with her dad, the kind but disciplined Fred (Donnelly Rhodes). At his organized grandpa's with an unwieldy dog, Bodi hopes to prove that he's responsible enough to have a pet of his own, so he enters a puppy competition by training Marley and an elderly neighbor's two little Labs, Moose (Ryan Grantham) and Fuchsia (Lauren Lavoie).

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

By now, Hollywood executives know very well that talking animals automatically attract pet-loving kids and their families. MARLEY & ME: THE PUPPY YEARS is an example of a sweet but ultimately unnecessary addition to the genre. 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of talking-animal movies. What's their appeal? Are they all entertaining, or are some better than the others? Why?

  • How does this sequel relate to the original Marley & Me movie? Do you think the two movies were intended for the same audience? How can you tell?

  • What does this movie teach viewers about keeping and training a pet?

Movie details

DVD release date:August 16, 2011
Cast:Donnelly Rhodes, Merrilyn Gann, Travis Turner
Director:Michael Damian
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Book characters
Run time:86 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some mild rude humor

This review of Marley & Me: The Puppy Years was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old February 8, 2014
age 5+
 

The first one wasn't left open!

Marley even dies in the first one.
Kid, 12 years old March 19, 2012
age 6+
 

info on a movies family friendliness

this is a heartwarming story that teaches kids responsibility.
What other families should know
Great role models

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