So I finally got to see the film Marley & Me. Guess what? I cried. I don't mean sniffling in my tissue, and a bit of demure wiping of the odd tear away, I mean the kind of heartfelt sobs that shake you, and leave you fighting to draw the next breath in. I mean when your face screws up of its own accord, your mouth twitches and you feel a wail rising from deep inside you, and doing its best to escape you. (Of course I suppressed the wail for the benefit of those around me.)
It's a sad film. Of course it's also joyous, riotous, and full of the ups and downs of life with a dog. Well, an exaggerated version of the ups and downs. The training class scenes are extremely funny. Marley is portrayed by a variety of dogs, from cute puppies, through vigourous large Labs in the prime of life, right up to the older dogs who depict his last years. I admire the film makers for including the darker parts of the book where John and his wife struggle to cope with three young children and "the worst dog in the world." However, as with any film version of a book, things are omitted; they have to be.
Towards the end I wanted to stop the film, and like Joey from Friends, put it in the freezer, because I knew what was waiting for Marley. I also knew what was waiting for his family. The scenes of grief touched a really raw nerve in me, and it was that which induced my crying. I defy anyone who loves (or who has loved) a dog to sit through this film without at least a surreptitious blow of the nose. So Jenny and I watched and wept, and I know we were crying as much for our own dogs as we were for the dog on the screen.
I guess I wish that Marley & Me could be more of a Benjamin Button style film; I want to start watching the sad-eyed, slow moving, old Marley, and see him develop into a mischievous, energetic and oh-so-cute puppy. Now that's a movie nobody need cry at.
You can find out more about the Marley film and books, and author John Grogan at the Marley & Me website.