- Rated PG
- Buy the BD
All photos © 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
fter sitting through all 88 painfully dull minutes of “Marmaduke,” the big screen adaptation of Brad Anderson’s long-running comic strip, I couldn’t tell if the filmmakers were actually trying to make a good movie or if this was some crazy bet between a couple of studio execs to prove that any film with talking animals is guaranteed to make a killing at the box office. If it’s the former, then director Tom Dey needs to be stripped of his DGA card immediately, because this is one of the worst family movies ever made. And if it’s the latter, well, at least you can find some comfort in the fact that “Marmaduke” was a colossal failure at the box office. If nothing else, that should at least prevent Hollywood from making a “Family Circus” movie any time soon, because that’s the only thing that could possibly be worse than this.
Owen Wilson voices the title character, a large but lovable Great Dane who spends his days wreaking havoc on his owner, Phil (Lee Pace), by making him chase him around the house, purposely farting in his face, and just generally being a thorn in his side. But when Phil takes a job with an organic dog food company and moves the family to California, Marmaduke discovers that he doesn't fit in with the neighborhood's cool dogs, and must instead team up with a trio of unpopular mutts (voiced by Emma Stone, Steve Coogan and Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in order to win the affection of a Collie named Jezebel and become the big dog on the block.
There’s actually quite a bit of talent packed into "Marmaduke," which only begs the question: what were these people thinking? Wilson is clearly the worst offender, since he’s not only the so-called star of the movie, but just did a film about a troublemaker dog two years ago, and his involvement reeks of an actor targeting an easy paycheck. Unfortunately, the same can be said of William H. Macy, Kiefer Sutherland, Judy Greer, and every other half-respectable actor in this piece of garbage. The lone bright spot is Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who is brilliantly cast as a Chinese crested dog with an inferiority complex and a fear of pumas. There’s a scene late in the movie where his character is dressed in a bumblebee outfit that left me in stitches. It’s one of the only genuine laughs in the film, as most of the humor comes at the expense of its script.
This is lazy writing at its worst, from the constant narration by Marmaduke to the use of such dreadful puns as Cowabarka, Chupadogra, and in one particularly embarrassing scene, when the bullying alpha dog, Bosco (voiced by Sutherland), reveals Marmaduke as a fraud by calling him Marmafake. Dey only adds to the humiliation by literalizing every single plot point, like when the family heads for their new home in Orange County and the soundtrack employs two different California-themed songs (one by Phantom Planet and another by 2Pac and Dr. Dre) in a matter of minutes. It’s a good thing Phil didn’t get a job at a hotel, or The Eagles might have rounded out the trifecta. Not even kids will like this movie, because "Marmaduke" sinks to "Beverly Hills Chihuahua” levels of awfulness and only reaffirms that talking animals aren’t funny – they’re boring.
Two-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Fox has thrown together a pretty weak collection of bonus features for their Blu-ray release of "Marmaduke," but it's hard to imagine anyone really caring. There's a feature called "Puppy Marmaduke and Kitty Carlos: Home Movies" that is literally just footage of the animals rolling around on the floor, while "Cowabarka! More Surfing Dogs" is exactly what it sounds like. There's also a short feature on casting the dogs, deleted scenes (including David Walliams' mostly cut cameo), a gag reel, and a DVD copy of the film.