Movie Review: Lowering the Bar with “Marmaduke”

Marmaduke is a classic newspaper comic strip, and for over fifty years, he’s entertained readers across the nation. That’s all fine and dandy, but now Marmaduke is a talking dog on the big screen! That’s got to be better than some boring comic, right? Good Lord, no. There will always be a market for talking animal movies, mostly because kids think that it’s hilarawesome. Hell, I thought Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey was the be all, end all movie when I was four years old.  Sadly, this is just another bland step along the path of easy money making kid’s movies.

Here’s the fulfilling and rich plot of the movie: Marmaduke is a Kansas dog, belonging to a cliche Nuclear Family. The Dad, Phil (Lee Pace), is making the family move to California to try and make the big leagues in organic dog food. Now, if that hasn’t hooked you into the story, it gets better. Now, Marmaduke has to try and fit into the High School clique-oriented dog park, while not causing too much trouble for his beloved family! Gee Whiz! And How! Yuck.

There’s really not much to the plot, although it is much better thought out than some kid’s movies…and some movies for adults, as well. I mean, it’s coherent and straight-forward. So, that’s a plus. Unfortunately, it’s really not that interesting. I’ve really got nothing to say about the story, other than your kids won’t understand anyway, so there’s a lot of farting to make up for it.

Family comedy. The term draws up mental images of movies that the entire family can enjoy, right? Well, Marmaduke doesn’t quite fit in, unless your entire family is an Oliver Twist style group of rag-tag children. There were scarce jokes for parents, which were mostly oriented around drug use. So, not a lot of hilarity there. Overall, it was about 60% Slapstick comedy, 30% bathroom humor, 8% of inserting the word “bark” and “dog” into words, and 2% genuinely funny material. I kept a scratch tally of how many times I actually laughed because of the movie, hoping for a high count. I really try to go into each movie with an open mind, so I wasn’t hoping to suffer through a lame movie. Anyway, the tally totaled into three. Now, I’ve seen “comedies” that have gotten less than three laughs from me, but I can’t say that I’m pleased with only three funny things in a family comedy.

The acting in Marmaduke was quite bad, but it wasn’t the actor’s faults this time. These people can only do so much to a script, you know? I’ve seen Judy Greer and Lee Pace act wonderfully in many other things, so I knew that the performances I was witnessing during Marmaduke were terrible because of the restrictive and cliche script. There were really ridiculous “Kodak” moments that were so horribly corny, you were laughing. But it’s a sad laugh. Believe me, it was a sad laugh.

Owen Wilson and George Lopez, along with Emma Stone and Keifer Sutherland all add their voices to Marmaduke. Which makes me curious, why in the world would they do this? I’ve run it through my head a few times, with no results as to why they would make this movie. I guess money is always a great motive, but I like to think that actors would at least get paid to make good movies. It’s kind of depressing to think about these great actors hopping on board with Marmaduke.

The music was an expected soundtrack of modern pop-rock and pop-rap, combined with cheesy “family moment” music. Really, not much to say about the music when a Great Dane is riding a surfboard on the screen. Oh yeah, there’s a Dog Surfing Contest. Spoilers.

Luckily, your kids won’t realize how lame each part of this movie was until they’re 14 or 15. Personally, my world was shattered when I realized that Mighty Morphing Power Rangers: The Movie was totally unwatchable. So, let your kids enjoy watching the CGI dog dance and fart while they still can. There’s really not a lot to say about Marmaduke, it’s just another kid’s movie that will come and go. If there were some sort of redeeming quality or innovative approach they would’ve taken, I could say that this movie could be worth watching, but it’s really not.

I give Marmaduke 2 “Drugged Meatballs” out of 5

By Blake Edwards


About Blake

Hi...I'm Blake and I'm a Cinephile. I've been this way since I can remember, although the environment I grew up in certainly contributed to my condition. As much as I love writing about films, I hope you all know that I write this for you. Look at me, Readers. It's all for you!

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