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    Marley and Me at the Movies

    Hey, everybody, let me get the obvious out of the way and wish everybody a happy and healthy New Year.

    Between Christmas and New Year’s Day I went to see a movie at a theater for the first time in about a year. It was the movie version of “Marley and Me” by John Grogan, which I had read in book form some time ago.

    Basically, it’s about a really unruly blond Labrador that Grogan, a news reporter, adopts shortly after marriage and settling in Florida.

    You may remember I wrote some columns about Jon Katz, a friend of Grogan’s who lives east of Saratoga Springs and who is also an author of books about dogs. I got to meet Katz at a reading in Saratoga year before last at Border’s Bookstore. He also has a movie coming out starring Jeff Bridges as Katz.

    Anyway, the actor who portrays Grogan is Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston plays his wife. I thought they both did a great job and an even better endorsement comes from Herman, who normally doesn’t care for Aniston or Wilson. As he put it, he had low expectations and was pleasantly surprised, laughing out loud at times during the movie.

    This is one of the rare times that a film catches the essence of the written word. Not that it is a terribly intellectual or difficult subject, but it’s nice to see a family type film that no one has to be embarrassed about seeing with their children.

    Alan Arkin turns in a wonderful performance as Grogan’s editor at the Florida newspaper who encourages him to write a column which is mainly about Marley’s misadventures and, as Grogan puts it, he “surprises himself” with the reception of the column, which actually increases the readership of the newspaper.

    Grogan backs into being a columnist when the regular columnist at the newspaper leaves. He at first writes two columns per week and switches to daily columns when asked by the editor, who then doubles his salary.

    It seems a bit far fetched, but those were different times and perhaps a different readership in Florida. Since the book is based in fact, it may well be true. With the popular reception of shows like The Dog Whisperer on National Geographic cable TV, it seems the public is open to shows about animals and pets in particular.

    I know for me, I pay particular attention to see what dog or cat show is on Animal Planet cable TV station daily. In fact, I found out watching “Cats 101,” how it is they purr. Basically, air is pushed up through their abdomen to their vocal chords producing the purr noise.  And on “Dog Genius,” I learned about the expressive eyes and stances of dogs.

    As the Grogan family grows with new children and a new job, Marley is such an integral part that they accommodate his foibles even when he threatens their tranquility. I don't want to ruin the ending, but it is heart wrenching.

    If you get a chance, this is a great holiday film that the whole family can enjoy.

    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com