Just when you think that that god-awful mega-super-evil conglomerate known as Walmart couldn’t get any more malicious towards its ignorantly innocent clientele, it subtly unleashes an “in-store only” exclusive: a forgettable, crappy sequel to a surprisingly entertaining Owen Wilson movie. Yes, it’s Marley & Me: The Puppy Years — wherein the producers behind this abomination figured it would be a good idea to discard just about any continuity with the original film by turning this into a just another talking dog film.
Yes, that’s correct: the dogs talk in this film. Evidently, lackluster kiddie flicks like Marmaduke (another Owen Wilson movie, albeit a much less-entertaining one) and the Beverly Hills Chihuahua series are too profitable to pass up not ripping off by sullying John Grogan’s autobiographical novel. So, if you’re hoping this would be as tender and as touching as the first film, forget it: this movie is no more related to its parent piece than Troll 2 was to Troll.
Naturally, as this is a cheaply made, direct-to-Walmart sequel, Owen Wilson himself is nowhere to be seen. Yup, you read that right: this movie is so cheap that not even Owen Wilson wanted a part in it. Hell, it was so cheap, that they couldn’t even hire George Lopez to voice one of the animals like he does in every talking animal flick! And, while one might see their absence as a plus (none of the original actors appear in this film, incidentally), this terrible “family” film — chock full of numerous, revolting moments of canine flatulence — stars an unknown child actor and a very bored-looking Donnelly “Dutch Leitner” Rhodes (who’s starting to resemble Robert Loggia in his older years) instead.
Plot-wise, Marley & Me: The Puppy Years tells the adventure of a young teen lad (Travis Turner) who is assigned with the task of babysitting the young Marley while his owners are away. Oddly enough, though Marley lived to be 14-years-old in the first film (to wit, his passing would have been in the mid 2000s, once one takes into consideration that the movie version followed the same timeline as Grogan’s book), this movie seems to be set in modern times, as numerous modern technological devices are in play here. “Does that shit really matter,” you ask? Indeed it does, kids: it just proves the demons responsible for this movie didn’t care at all about honoring Grogan’s book or the first film.
So, anyway, the kid goes to stay with his grandfather (Rhodes? Where we’re going, we don’t need any Rhodes!) while babysitting the critter and decides to enter the dog in some competition (yes, we just crossed Marmaduke with Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 — you can scream now, if you like). Some early-teen girl helps the kid out, and Marley teams up with a lot of other talking dogs, there are some goofy German humans to play the “bad guys,” and they even toss in a couple of “hip” black guys as dumb dog groomers — just so we can fulfill Walmart’s policy on stereotyping.
It’s ironic that such a shitty film should have such a fine HD presentation. The movie is presented in a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer, displaying the movie in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and with a color scheme, detail and contrast that are far-too-fine for a cheapo shot-on-video sequel like this. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is also much better than a movie like this deserves, and there are optional English (SDH), French and Spanish subtitles on-hand, just in case hearing the dreadful dialogue isn’t sufficient for you. Special features consist of three short, mediocre featurettes and a handful of trailers for movies that I only wished I could have been watching instead.
In short: Marley & Me: The Puppy Years is a really bad and very cheap movie. How bad is it? Well, please allow me to reiterate this one little factoid once more: it was released only to Walmart stores. Think about that, people.