This was one of the rare cases where I actually saw the movie before I read the book. I didn’t intend to read the book, but after I saw the movie I decided that I wanted to see how the book differed. Especially since that is something that I enjoy doing (if it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t bother with this blog). Although I saw the movie first, I will start with the book.
The book chronicles the life of John Grogan, his family, and their dog Marley. The book is not one cohesive novel as it is non-fiction and based on John’s columns when he wrote with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. John’s book starts with him and his wife Jennifer, just married, recently moved to Florida, and deciding to own a dog. Strong, powerful, destructive of property, and terrified by thunderstorms, the golden lab Marley turns out to be quite a handful. However, he makes up for it in his abundance of love and devotion to his owners.
The novel follows the life of Marley through being kicked out of obedience school, protecting his family in a crisis, and a brief stint as a movie star, while the Grogans live through a miscarriage, the birth of their three children, and moving to Pennsylvania.
I’m not much of a die hard dog lover or pet/animal person in general, but the book was heartwarming. It’s a simple light-hearted read written to make you laugh and cry a little (even though I already know what happens in the end).*
The writing is simple and straight-forward. The story is cute with something everyone can relate to, owning a pet no one else will love. I rate it a 3.5/5.
The book translates very well into the movie. Most of the scenes in the movie are directly from the book, such as the obedience school, Marley trying to escape out of the car on their way for a ‘snip, snip’ vet appointment, and swallowing the gold diamond necklace. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston basically play themselves, and Marley the dog is just as crazy as ever.
The only thing about the movie that was different was a sideline to the story about John dreaming of being a big time news reporter, instead of becoming a family man and columnist. John has a friend who works at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel who becomes a hard-hitting news reporter, and John seems to envy him a little of this. There is nothing of this mentioned at all in the book, and I’m not sure if it was true of John’s life. It seemed sweet that he chose the better life than his thrill-seeking friend, but it seemed unnecessary in the plot of the movie and would have been better without it.
Overall, I actually preferred the movie. The movie paced well over the years it depicted in Marley’s life and it was a cute, simple story (did I mention heartwarming?). I rate it a 4/5.
I am willing to admit that I might like the movie a little bit better because I saw it first. However, I think the story translates better as a visual one opposed to the written book. I enjoyed seeing Marley’s crazy antics more than reading about them. I think Marley’s good intentions and lovable nature through his terrible behavior is better suited to film. Also, I would rather watch the movie again then read the book.
*If you haven’t noticed yet, I tend to cry. A lot.