Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes knows that I am supremely fascinated and amused by talking animal. Seriously, they fill me with a sense of child-like glee in a way that nothing else can. I sometimes think I had a kid simply so that I could have an excuse to buy movies in which dogs waxed philosophical about such things as fire hydrants and mailmen. Not that I needed an excuse before, but at least now I can say “hey, it’s for Jacob!” So of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out Marley and Me: The Puppy Years, which features everyone’s favorite “world’s worst dog” as a talking puppy.

In the movie, Marley is, obviously, still a puppy. His family is away on a writing assignment, so he’s staying with Brodi Grogan, a teenaged puppy sitter. Brodi jumps at the chance to watch Marley because he wants to convince him mom that he can care for a puppy, and if he can care for Marley, he can care for just about any other dog on the planet. Marley, of course, makes Brodi’s job a little difficult. He’s what they call a high-spirited dog. At least I’m assuming that’s what they call them, since my son is referred to as a high-spirited child, and he exhibits many of the same traits as the beloved Marley. Other names for such children, and therefore animals, are “difficult” and “high-maintenance,” so you can see why I prefer high-spirited.

The basic plot of the story focuses on Marley’s training for a local puppy contest with obstacle courses. He, along with a neighbor’s puppies (the teams must consist of three dogs) train in Brodi’s grandfather’s back yard, embark on some crazy adventures, go up against some stiff competition, and generally wreak havoc in the most charming way possible. The movie was adorable and both Jake and I enjoyed watching it. When I first heard about it, I was worried they would use different actors for the main human characters. I like how they just completely eliminated them from the story by sending them off on assignment, that’s always much better than trying to fake it with other actors. Marley and Me: The Puppy Years  is definitely more child-friendly than the original, which made me bawl for hours after watching it. I wont let Jake watch that one yet, as our dogs are getting up there in years and he’s going to have to face the very real situation of losing a pet sooner than I’d like. But The Puppy Years is way before Marley’s devastating conclusion, so it’s full of life and energy.

Sure, it’s not the next great-American mind-warping, thought-provoking Lynch-esque film, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a kid’s movie, and it does a good job of entertaining my kid. I think if you go into it expecting something like the original, you may be disappointed. Just keep in mind that while the original was aimed towards adults, Marley and Me: The Puppy Years is geared more towards children. They’re the target demographic this time, and I think the movie did a good job of appealing to them.