What’s worse: air travel or bank fraud? Tough call, but I found a way to enjoy both on the same day recently. Air travel security has escalated to such bizarre and disturbing extremes that flying is now the most harrowing experience a person can have short of watching a close family member succumb to a flesh-eating disease. But then is that worse than having to talk to my bank? Don’t make me choose.
Either way, this combination has pretty much sent me over the edge. I’m a ball of rage. I’m Michael Douglas and this is Falling Down. I’m not paying that much for a Coke. Charge me less or I’ll smash your face in, yeah? I’m in McDonalds and I want a breakfast and if I don’t get it I’m gonna start firing a machine gun and making fun of the menu, got it? I’ve got broken glasses and a briefcase with a sandwich in it and I’m just about ready to start shooting some Nazis right in their stupid fucking Nazi faces, right?
Needless to say, I’ve not been great fun to be around. There have been several attempts made to cheer me up. The most successful involved waving a selection of wriggling fluffy puppies in front of my face. Not wanting to trust me with the critters, concerned that in my current state of mind I might take to pulling their heads off for fun, my girlfriend decided that the best way to try to pull me back from the abyss was to sit me down and show me a film full of puppies. I can’t really believe that I’m saying this in a Confused Views column, but spoilers for Marley And Me lie ahead.
Marley And Me is a film that features an adorable puppy named Marley who, over the course of the nearly two hour film, causes some serious mischief, looks at you with his big eyes, is extremely lovable, becomes best friends with Owen Wilson, humps someone’s leg and then develops a fatal cancerous tumour and dies. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
It’s lucky that the dog is in Marley And Me, even if he does die, because a light comedy drama starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston without a lively canine would probably cause most people to slip into a boredom-induced coma within the first thirty seconds or so.
Immediately noticeable here is that something funny has happened to Jennifer Aniston’s face. My initial response was ‘facelift’, but it doesn’t really look like a facelift. Then it occurred to me that such is modern cinema that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone naturally age over the course of a film career. Maybe that’s what’s happening here (although it’s probably not, it’s probably a facelift). No such concern over Owen Wilson’s appearance. He still looks to be in a permanent state of facial wonkiness and never ceases to appear anything less than ‘ready to surf’.
The film focuses on Wilson’s relationship with Marley. This is a good thing as the scenes with the two of them are generally good fun and occasionally quite touching. In an endlessly happy dog, Owen Wilson appears to have found his ideal screen partner. Now all we need to do is find some more projects for him to act opposite dogs in.
My personal suggestion would be that his next film would be ‘Muttley and Me: The Dick Dastardly Story’. “Catch the pigeon! Or don’t catch the pigeon. Whatever. Do whatever you want to do. Do you want to smoke a joint with me? I’m totally gonna teach you how to surf. A surfing dog, how cool would that be?”. In fact, reading that back, it sounds bloody awful. The real Dick Dastardly was too edgy for Owen Wilson, always appearing to be on the brink of losing it (making him the direct opposite of Owen Wilson, who never even appears close to the brink of finding it). It’s much easier to picture someone like Danny Dyer in the role: “Catch the f#@!ing pigeon, you flea-ridden little shit”
So, back to Marley And Me. It’s too long, not very funny, has a fairly annoying cast and a meandering, un-engaging plot. But what’s not to like about the bits where there’s a cute puppy running around causing havoc? You can always just fast forward through the rest of it. Watching the film as a highlight reel is a bit like watching an over-produced You’ve Been Framed! animal special.
What they don’t tend to do on You’ve Been Framed! is include a small amount of footage after each clip which shows the subject slowly and miserably dying in the arms of their loved ones. Perhaps this is something they’ll experiment with once Harry Hill has left and people stop watching again.
Anyway, that’s what they do in Marley And Me. At the end the dog dies and you, the audience, are expected to cry. Go on, cry. It’s sad, the lovely sweet puppy has grown old and died and so you should cry about it. Go on, cry. Cry at the film. The makers of this film wanted you to cry so much that they’ve given a dog cancer, so you’d better cry. Go on, fucking cry. I’m a man on the edge. I’m Michael Douglas and this Falling Down. Cry about the bastard dog dying, you heartless shit.
Of course, it reminds you of when your dog died, doesn’t it? So you do cry. Or your cat, or your rabbit or whatever household pet it was that was beloved to you as a child. It died, didn’t it? It died just like Marley died, and it was probably your first experience of death and it made you very sad. Even a hardened cynic like me was huddled in a foetal ball sobbing uncontrollably for poor old Marley. It reminded me of when my dog died. In fact, the speed from which I went from ‘seething rage-machine’ to ‘blubbering lump of shame’ leads me to think that I should be considering a career as an emotionally unbalanced cage fighter. Well, if I wasn’t so physically weak and afraid of getting hit, anyway.
So Marley And Me, whilst not a very good film, has helped me shift my rather nasty case of the rages. Of course, now I’m so depressed that I can’t really face getting out of bed, but at least I’m out of everybody’s way.