Sunday, August 23, 2009

Man (and Woman's) best friend

I've been waiting to review Marley and Me for a while now, and then I saw Wendy and Lucy and felt the need to make comparisons. Both movies follow someone who bases most of their life around a dog, though the differences between the dogs makes actual comparisons between the movies futile. Marley and Me is a memoir by a journalist played by Owen Wilson, newly married to fellow journalist Jennifer Aniston living in Miami. They adopt a golden retriever puppy and name it Marley. The basic plot of the movie follows the unimaginable behavior of Marley as he grows up. Wilson starts writing a column about his misadventures with Marley, and ultimately, with a growing family, he finds a career based on his dog. We watch the horribly awful things Marley does, tearing up the couch, escaping, knocking down the kids, pulling down the blinds during thunderstorms, etc. and personally, I couldn't imagine living with a dog like that. However, and I'm sure this is true for nearly all pet owners, they settle into a rhythm with the dog trying to outsmart him and keep him from destroying their lives. It's a wonderful family film, perfect for kids, but funny enough to keep adults entertained. 3.5 of 5 Lambs/Stars.

Now, Wendy and Lucy follows a terrific dog as his owner, Wendy tries to make a better life for the two of them. Michelle Williams, in a remarkably captivating performance, is trying to get to Alaska to find a job, and likely escape something from her past. When she takes a pit stop in Oregon, she's picked up for shoplifting (possibly inadvertently) and her dog is gone when she returns. She also finds her car has given up the ghost and she doesn't have the money to fix it or get a new one. She befriends a security guard who tries to help her out. We watch as she struggles to do what's best for Lucy while trying to keep herself alive. This movie was made in the true spirit of independent film (she was nominated and won lots of awards for her performance). They follow a single character through a poignant moment in her life. It's well shot, and Williams is terrific, though the movie does move fairly slowly. I liked it, but it's definitely not for everyone. 3 stars/lambs (currently available on Netflix watch instantly).

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