Australian Council on Children and the Media

Marley and Me

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Short takes

Lacks interest under 8s, PG to 13 (Sexual references, themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Marley and Me
  • a review of Marley and Me completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 January 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under the age of 5 Lacks interest
Children aged 5-13 Parental guidance recommended due to theme of adult relationships and death of a family pet
Children over the age of 13 Some children in this age group could also be concerned by the loss of a pet

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Marley and Me
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild coarse language, sexual references and themes
Length 111 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This movie is based on the book of the same name and mirrors it very closely. It is a gentle story about a period of time in the life of the Grogans. John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny (Jennifer Anniston) Grogan are newspaper reporters and happily married. After a few years Jenny mentions the idea of becoming parents, so John convinces her that it would be best to get a dog first.
Enter Marley, the world’s worst dog. Marley is a big friendly, unruly, labrador. He is completely untrainable, chews everything, howls when there are thunderstorms, knocks over people, things etc. There is however something endearing about him and even though he drives them to distraction, they love him. He is there for the birth of their children, survives the move from Florida to Philadelphia and brings a sense of security to their lives. He becomes part of a regular column written by John and people are keen to read about his exploits each week.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death of a family pet, adult relationships

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is no violence, but there are a couple of scenes where John and Jenny have an argument and shout at each other.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

It is unlikely that anything in this movie that would scare or disturb a child under the age of five.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children over the age of five could be upset when Marley dies.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

None

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

None

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:
•Starbucks
•Coca Cola.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • several scenes where Jenny is using a pregnancy test kit.
  • on John’s 40th birthday, Jenny tells them that they are not old and takes off her clothes and hops in the pool. We see her starting to take off her top, and then she is in the pool where John joins her.
  • several scenes where they kiss, and the implication is that they would like to do more but have to go to work or for some other reason can’t continue.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • they kiss passionately on their wedding night, and when they decide to start trying to have children
  • one night when they are on holiday, they both end up in a single bed and there is a lot of squeaking coming from the bed

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • drinking champagne from a bottle on their wedding night

Coarse language

Marley & Me contains some mild coarse language, including “bloody” and “shit”.

In a nutshell

Marley & Me is a simple story about an average family and how much a pet can enrich their lives. It also highlights that no matter how much you plan, life can still throw surprises your way.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • loyalty
  • love
  • the importance of friends and family.

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