Posts Tagged ‘Marley & Me

14
Mar
09

Marley & Me

I went to see Marley & Me last night. Having enjoyed the book recently (quite against my will), I felt obliged to see it. I was initially put off by the concept of a largely fictionalised adaptation of a memoir (particularly one as personal as Marley & Me), but I figured it’s no more abnormal than Frost/Nixon and the likes. Seemingly few others are bothered by this, as the cinema was packed. I guess there’s something in a story about a dog that really strikes a cord with people. Or maybe it was because it’s about a family that’s actually quite happy. Not many films like this are ever made. Either way, a packed screen meant that there were a lot of chitty-chatty people not used to common cinema manners. I really longed for that guy who shouted “shut up!” at Watchmen last week.

As for the film, I’m afraid to say it translates very, very poorly. It comes across as a formulaic tear-jerker, in that it’s cheap, manipulative and (worst of all) very, very cheesy, all of which the book avoided. Now I’m very much a dog-person, but Jennifer Aniston has a line towards the end that made me want to kick a puppy. The thing is, I knew beforehand it would be like this, and I was well up for it. I was genuinely in the mood for “ahhhs” and “cooos” and even the occasional tear. Now I don’t deny there was a lump in my throat when Marley’s story reached its inevitable conclusion, and there were a few moments when I found it quite charming, but as a whole it comes across as quite a cynical film. It’s the kind of thing optioned by Hollywood executives purely because they saw the source material making millions, and didn’t really understand, much less care, what it was that made it so popular.

For all its faults, Watchmen can at least be said to be a labour of love. This, however, is little more than a cash-in. If you’re thinking of seeing it, I recommend you save your self the bother. Rent Babe or something instead.

14
Feb
09

Pets

After arriving home last night from a highly successful surprise party for my mother’s 50th birthday, I got into an argument with my sister about our dog. “He would be a fantastic dog,” I drunkenly declared, “except he’s getting so many mixed messages about what he’s allowed and not allowed to do.”
“And who’s fault is that?” she responded.
“Not mine, anyway. I’m the only one who takes care of him.”
“You fucking spoil him,” she shot back, “he’s only trouble when you’re home.”

I had no response to this. I’m sure the dog is still a handful when I’m not around, but how can I prove it. As for the charge of spoiling him, perhaps I do, but in my opinion Labradors demand/deserve a high level of attention. I see it as my role to supply this attention.

Every time I’m home it seems that, with the occasional exception of my mother, I’m the only one who takes him for a walk every day. The siblings claim to do this when I’m not around, but I flat out don’t believe them. My suspicions were confirmed last night when talking with a neighbour (a fellow Lab owner) who told me he’s only ever seen me take the dog out. “I’ve seen him more in the last two weeks than I have in months,” he said.

As Labradors go, Frank is pretty dim and of limited use. And his position in the family has at least once been questioned. When he was leaving the puppy stage my mother wondered if we should give him away. “He’d make a good guard dog for a site or something,” she argued. It wasn’t an unreasonable proposition. After all, ours had always been a feline household, and we really couldn’t be sure we would be able to care for a small dog, never mind a Lab. However, the idea was quickly shot down and never broached again when I shot a quick, expressionless response: “You’re not getting rid of our dog.”

There are a few reasons why I’m so unwilling to let him go. For one, he is, indeed, an excellent guard dog. This is quite convenient for us as we live in a fairly industrialised area, occasionally frequented by individuals who might see an open shed door and help themselves to a few supplies. Of course the problem with this is that people who are perfectly authorised to be on our property have often been hounded. In his younger days, visitors would have to phone in advance to let us know they’re coming so we’d know not to let Frank bark them out the gate again. He’s a lot calmer now, but he has an incredible ability to remind strangers who come to our door, “I’m watching you, buddy.”

Frank is also remarkable for his gentle nature with weaker creatures. We did once have a cat that was forced to live in my father’s vegetable garden (out of bounds to Frank) until it unsurprisingly ran away. The two just couldn’t get on. This, however, is the one exception as Frank is very calm, even nurturing, with our cats. At one time one of the cats was having a litter, and sensing she was in trouble Frank worked himself into a tizzy trying to help her. Unfortunately helping to him meant pulling her around the back yard by her head, but at least he was trying (mother and kittens were fine, by the way). We currently two cats, one of whom displays bizarre behavioural characteristics for a cat. Unlike most cats, he’s friendly, affectionate, highly energetic and loyal (he has his favourites within the household). He’s playful in the way kittens are playful but usually grow out of. I can’t sit down without him jumping onto my lap. And when I take Frank for a walk he insists coming with us. He’s more of a dog than many dogs I know, and I suspect it was Frank who trained him to be like this.

All of this, however, is irrelevant, as I don’t need a reason to defend his presence. Frank is part of the family just because he’s Frank. I don’t expect him to proof his worth anymore than I expect him to decide for himself he doesn’t want to be part of the family anymore.

Anyway, I’d like to retract an earlier statement on the book Marley and Me, now that I’ve nearly finished it. I’m not saying it’s not light and easily marketable, because it is. But it’s also very well written, on occasionally brutally honest, and of course essential reading for anyone who’s ever loved a dog.

08
Feb
09

Frank and me

I’m currently reading Marley & Me, the non-fiction account of “life and love with the world’s worst dog”. I didn’t really want to, as it always seemed to me to be the light, easily marketable kind of book that everyone claims to love but forgets forever as soon as they’ve finished it (and so far my initial presumptions were correct). However, I’ve been forced to read it as a sort of homework assignment (someone else’s homework, but that’s another story).

I bring this up because it serves highlight my relationship with my own dog. Having returned to the family homestead, I’ve been reunited with Frank, the family dog. Like Marley, Frank is a Labrador retriever (though not a purebred. Apparently there’s some husky blood in there somewhere), and considering that Marley is the world’s worst dog I’m having a hard time realising why he’s any worse than Frank. Like Marley, Frank doesn’t recognise his own strength, and frequently knocks people over (literally) with his friendliness. He chews up whatever he can get his jaws on. He refuses to lets us wash him, yet zips for every last puddle when taken for a walk. His favourite game is a sort of wrestling which involves biting. He never bites through though. He just sort of holds arms and legs in his mouth. So I nervously tell myself that he will never actually attack anyone as biting to him is something to do as play.

Maybe he’s just particularly bad when I’m home, as my presence in the house is something of a novelty and it gets him excited. Of course this doesn’t explain why other dog owners can do things with ease that are impossible with Frank. For instance, I occasionally notice dogs outside supermarkets and places, tied to railings while patiently waiting for their owners. My brother tried this with Frank once. Refusing to be left alone, he pulled the metal railing he was tied to from its wall. I too tried something similar once, but the poor dog went into such a panic that he made it impossible (though he probably did me a favour, given that in a moment of hunger-driven weakness I was trying to enter a McDonalds).

Currently Frank is tormetted by the dreaded cone, preventing him from gnawing at a cut in his back leg. He looks like an after-shot of that HMV logo. He needn’t worry too much though as I don’t see it lasting long. He already broke a piece off yesterday by running it into the back of my legs.

Incidentally, reading Marley & Me got me thinking. If one attempted to use the Bart Simpson “the dog ate my homework” excuse for not having their report on this book, could they get some credit for creative interpretation of the assignment.