So has anyone called Marley & Me dog-person propaganda? I ask as a dog person myself… Cats don’t tell me anything…
It’s a lovable pet flick. The film’s not going to have the stakes of high drama. It’s not even going to have the stakes of *Old Yeller*. And it’s not going to be as offbeat as that lovely early Simpsons episode from the point-of-view of the dog. The real-life story that Josh Grogan wrote about doesn’t have any Lassie– or Bolt-style dramatics, and Marley (unlike the golden retriever in *Independence Day*) isn’t even fireproof. Marley just lived, day in and day out, often being maddening and occasionally being calm but always being *there*. (Zen and the Art of Chaotic Cute. Whoa. That almost sounds profound, though A) it’s not and B) it probably would make Robert Pirsig cringe.)
So Marley & Me doesn’t offer much chance to go insanely over-the-top musically, and Theodore Shapiro (who I’m guessing had much more leeway when he scored Tropic Thunder with over-the-top-music fan Ben Stiller directing) goes subtle. We’re talking piano, strings and guitar, mostly played gently with a few rock-and-roll moments early on when Marley goes nuts. I wonder (pure speculation on my part) if the gentler bits of Jerry Goldsmith’s *Rudy* were used in the temp track. There’s cleverness: a bolero at the start of “Obedience School” and a quick Morricone-spaghetti Western injection to “Leg Love” (ew), but it sounds more generic than what Shapiro’s capable of writing. (You already know what the track “Off to Ireland” sounds like. Yes you do.) Sad moments like “Lost in the Rain” (aww) don’t last long; it’s more like a seasoning of sadness, then it’s back to the dog wackiness.
The main theme is piano-based, and it’s upbeat, simple (like what Marley’s mind must be like!) and catchy. It’s first really heard in Track 7, “Two Year Montage” (of course the film’s going to have montages: they maximize cuteness) and gets played big in the end credits (“Marley & Me”). The theme is that pounding-the-keys-on-the-right-side-of-the-keyboard kind of bright. And that’s much of the score: bright. Brighter than Marley, probably.
The score’s not quite my thing, though it has grown on me, maybe (hack writer alert) the way Marley grows on you. By the way, want a better-behaved and smarter dog than Marley? Mutts, man. Mutts are my kind of dogs. They’re scrappy, smart and less likely to have the over breeding problems of purebreds. Mutts: available at your finest Humane Society offices…
Hey, I told you I was a dog person.
(Fuller Disclosure! This review includes one (1) stolen joke, but you gotta’ find it).
Marley & Me score is available at Local Retail Stores.