Starring: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Alan Arkin
Directed by: David Frankel
Release date: December 25
If the words ''cute dog movie'' make you want to roll over and play dead, fear not. Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) swears there's more to Marley & Me than the high jinks of an unruly yellow Labrador. ''It's about a marriage and a family,'' he says. ''It's about maturing, growing old, and confronting mortality.''
Based on John Grogan's 2005 best-selling memoir of the same name, the film follows a young couple (Aniston and Wilson, the latter playing against type as a responsible family man) as they grapple with what Frankel calls ''the ordinariness of life'': buying a home, holding down a job, having kids and yes, adopting a disobedient but adorable puppy who grows up with them. A total of 22 dogs played Marley at various ages, and by the end of production, the set had become so canine-centric that even standard movie-speak was transformed. ''David kept saying 'Pay the dog!' instead of 'Cut!''' says Aniston. The proud mother of two pooches of her own, the actress felt right at home working with her furry costars. Less familiar was exploring personal relationships in such a realistic way: ''It's a very honest portrayal of a modern marriage. I've never had to play that before,'' she says, adding, ''Of course, I've been there, I get it. I know those dig-your-heels-in challenges the stuff that real love is made of.'' Puppy love, too.