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Blu-ray Review Marley & Me: The Puppy Years Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer

    Apr 24, 2006
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    Charlotte, NC
    Real Name:
    Matt Hough
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    You really can’t blame Fox for wanting to start excavating the talking puppy gold mine that Disney has been mining for several years with their Buddies series. With Michael Damian’s Marley & Me: The Puppy Years, we’re now not only subjected to the puppy version of Marley with all of his “riotous” mischief, but he now talks, too, as do all of his animal friends. It’s a barebones, obvious family comedy with hissable villains and our plucky pups doing all they can to thwart them while still remaining lovably impish but decidedly trying for anyone over the age of, say, ten.

    Marley & Me: The Puppy Years (Blu-ray)
    Directed by Michael Damian

    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Year: 2011

    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 86 minutes
    Rating: PG
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
    Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French

    Region: A
    MSRP: $ 29.99

    Release Date: August 16, 2011

    Review Date: August 12, 2011

    The Film


    Lab puppy Marley (voiced by Grayson Russell) has been left with cousin Bodi Grogan (Travis Turner) for the summer, and while his mother (Chelah Horsdal) is out of town conducting business, Bodi and Marley are staying with ex-Marine grandpa Frank (Donnelly Rhodes) who runs a tight ship (which Marley has no trouble at all bending to suit his own wants and desires). To show his mom he can be responsible, Bodi gets the idea of entering Marley and two other lab puppies on the block in the Ultimate Puppy Championship, an obstacle course for dogs which will require a great deal of coaching and training by Bodi and Frank to get the dogs ready to compete. Their foremost competitors are last year’s champions, a trio of Doberman puppies owned by the cunning and dictatorial Hans Weaselmann (Alex Zahara) who with his assistant Hinkle (Geoff Gustafson) puts his pups through a doggie boot camp that would make Navy Seals ring the bell.

    There is no Jennifer Aniston or Owen Wilson in sight, so abandon the film now if you were hoping for adventures in the early life of Marley with either of the two former film stars in view. No, the focus in this prequel is definitely on the talking pooches, but one wishes director Michael Damian and co-writer Janeen Damian had given the puppies something interesting to say once the decision was made to give them animated talking mouths. Instead, we’re served up the same tired dog puns, fart jokes (lots of those), pooches in silly costumes, and an abundance of slapstick antics (Spam in the face, a running gag with Frank’s false teeth, predictable mayhem at the dog show once a cat is loosed on the premises) that have made Disney’s Buddies comedies so popular with the younger set. True, adults can marvel at the tremendous amount of training and patience it must have required to get so many dogs ready to take part in these tricks, but that’s about all that the film can offer anyone over the age of consent. Yes, all of the dogs are adorable, and the various German and Australian accents given to the visiting pups are momentarily amusing and might have been expanded to have dogs from many, many different nations as part of the contest.

    Travis Turner makes a chipper and relaxed master for the puppies, and he doesn’t go overboard in trying to be charming or cool or anything but a regular young preteen. Donnelly Rhodes is a very good sport with the dentures business and elsewhere denies the temptation to make the ex-Marine a predictable hardass with a heart of gold and instead makes him a loving grandfather fairly early on, an admirable and appreciated acting choice. Alex Zahara pours on the mean as the wicked German martinet owner of the champion puppies, but Geoff Gustafson as his flunky Hinkle gets some good gags and is altogether welcome with each of his appearances. Also quite enjoyable is Christopher Goodman voicing the cat who always gets Marley in a chaotic state. Though not perhaps as dashing or witty as Antonio Bandaras’ Puss in Boots in the Shrek films, his voice acting is still momentarily entertaining. 

    Video Quality


    The made-for-home video film is framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Close-ups and medium shots are nicely sharp and possess better than average detail, but longer shots show a softer look and less exacting details. Color saturation is first-rate, and flesh tones are completely natural. Black levels are good. The image is free from any compression artifacts. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

    Audio Quality


    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix does not take advantage of the available channels. The mix is decidedly frontcentric even with the music by Mark Thomas and incidental rap songs which get thrown in on occasion. Occasionally, some slight ambient effects like some faraway thunder during a storm can be heard in the rear channels, but opportunities to exploit the spectators and numerous dogs at the championship match are mostly ignored. Dialogue is always easily discernible and has been placed in the center channel.

    Special Features


    All of the featurettes are in 1080p.

    Marley & Me: The Puppy Years Goes to Training Camp” is a 9 ¾-minute look at the dog trainers putting the sets of dogs (there had to be several for the three dogs in Bodi’s squad) through their paces to ready them for the five-week shoot. Also weighing in on the amount of training he had to undertake with the dogs is star Travis Turner along with producer Connie Dolphin and director Michael Damian.

    “Part of the Family” is a music video montage of clips from the movie and behind-the-scenes shots of the dogs and human actors in the movie. It runs 2 minutes.

    “My Favorite Moments” has a group of humans talking about their favorite moments during the production. Included in the 4 ¼-minute interviews are producer Connie Dolphin, actress Sydney Imbeau (who plays Bodi’s neighborhood friend Caycee), Travis Turner, co-writer Janeen Damian, and director Michael Damian.

    The film’s theatrical trailer was not included (it’s present on many other Fox family Blu-rays and DVDs from the past six months), but promo trailers included on this disc are Rio, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

    In Conclusion

    2.5/5 (not an average)

    An innocuous family comedy which the younger members of the family will likely enjoy, Marley & Me: The Puppy Years doesn’t come anywhere near matching the humor and heart of the original movie, but on its own may find the family’s younger viewers enjoying the puppy antics.

    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator

    Oct 9, 2001
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    Rensselaer, NY
    For anyone who might be interested in winning a free DVD of this title, the HTF was nice enough to help a couple of pet bloggers secure promotional copies from Fox--earning both the HTF and Fox Home Entertainment the honor of being proud sponsors of the contest.

    To find out how to enter and--at the same time--learn a little something about pet health and fitness, click HERE.

    Full disclosure: one of the bloggers is my wife, Peggy, who has just authored a book called Dieting With My Dog (on sale at a retailer near you--including amazon.com and amazon.uk.com. ).

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