Marmaduke is the newest movie by Tom Dey, an adaptation from the comic, starring Owen Wilson, Lee Pace, William H. Macy, Kiefer Sutherland, Emma Stone, George Lopez, Steve Coogan, Stacy Ferguson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
[Don’t judge me for having seen this movie. I just love Lee Pace and Steve Coogan too much to miss it.]
Marmaduke (Owen Wilson) is a pubescent Great Dane, belonging to the Winslow family. When Phil Winslow (Lee Pace) gets a job offer in California, they move from Kansas there. Unfortunately, Marmaduke has problems adjusting and gets into trouble with the local crowd, spearheaded by the evil Bosco (Kiefer Sutherland). And also Phil has his problems getting the new job done.
Marmaduke is a movie made for kids. In a time, where the supposed kids movies (like Shrek, Toy Story, Wall-E) are made at least as much for the adults, this is quite extraordinary. It’s not a brilliant film, but I’m sure that kids enjoy it. Adults, on the other hand, will be mostly bored.
Marmaduke is your typical high school movie, except that instead teenagers, you have dogs. And Nazi undertones. [Bosco going on about purebreds vs. mutts was more than a little creepy, I have to admit.] And Marmaduke is your typical geek hero, who becomes suddenly popular but then notices that his best friends were always the other geeks etc. It’s nothing new, is what I’m saying. Creepily animated dancing dogs don’t change that fact.
But it isn’t all bad. The casting is actually pretty good, especially Kiefer Sutherland as Bosco was a stroke of genius. Lee Pace is great in anything he does [seriously, after The Fall and Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies and Soldier’s Girl, why is he still only able to get roles like this?], though it was quite a pity that his wet shirt scene wasn’t extended. And Steve Coogan… he just cracks me up.
There were surprisingly many film references in this movie. And not only stuff like Dirty Dancing (“Nobody puts Doggie in a corner.”) and Night at the Museum (“Gigantor”), but also Almost Famous (“I’m a golden dog” *jumps off roof*) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (“Timber!”). Which, I have to admit, is an easy way to make me happy.
But other than that, Marmaduke lacked a little bit of everything – originality, care, good special effects… – to really engage an audience, or at least one that’s older than, say 12 (and I’m being generous with that estimate). And Carlos, the latino stereotype cat, made me uncomfortable and was pretty unnecessary.
Summarising: If you want to entertain kids, Marmaduke will do just fine. If you want to entertain yourself, look for something else.