I love dogs. They are my pets of choice. But I get really irritated when Hollywood cashes in on dogs being cute and think they can forgo all aspects of filmmaking. In fact, I find this film offensive to dog lovers. It treats us as unintelligent as if we can’t see through the lack of writing and Bob Saget-esque dog commentary. Watching film’s like MARMADUKE is the toughest part of my job.
A family moves to California with their trouble-making dog, Marmaduke (Owen Wilson). The dog can talk and his lips move to prove it, however people don’t see or hear it. The story is in two parts. One part is about the family where the father (Lee Pace) is career driven and neglecting his family. He needs to find a balance and Marmaduke seems to unintentionally fuel the job mishaps. The second part is about Marmaduke, as the new dog on the block, he tries to fit in with the cooler dogs headed up by the alpha bully Bosco (Kiefer Sutherland).
They should have followed the lengthy awkward human teenager who appeared in the opening of the film as a comparison to Marmaduke rather than the dog. Dogs are cute. You can’t really compare them to zitty-faced teenagers. However, the filmmakers did a fantastic job of making our lead dog as unlikable as possible. The digital effects are too often and too terrible, giving off a Scooby Doo vibe. The constant mouth moving doesn’t help anything; it’s actually creepy and unsettling. The voice acting is atrocious and off-putting. I’m not sure who would be good at this horrific job but I can clearly say that Owen Wilson was not the right choice. Other over paid animal voices are Sutherland, Emma Stone, Fergie, Steve Coogan, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and George Lopez as the cat Carlos, who is the only one who musters up a possible laugh.
The message is basic but the way the story goes about it makes no sense. The wife played by the usually funny Judy Greer supports the dog and not the husband. The father is barely at work and genuinely is involved in his family’s life, but they basically wish he didn’t have a job. Looking for your missing dog and getting fired is irresponsible to your family. It’s saying your dog is more important than your wife and children, especially when they are all just as capable of looking for the animal as he is. I understand the message that family and loved one’s are more important than work but the examples provided did not give that affect.
In the end, MARMADUKE is absolutely terrible. Full of bad writing, bad acting, bad CGI and a couple of bad fart jokes to boot. The film’s title and characters are based off the famous one-panel comic strip. Do yourself a favor and read a panel of the strip instead. Skip Marmaduke and watch your own pet, whether it be a dog or a rock, for an hour and a half and you will be far more entertained.
Video: (Widescreen 2.35:1) Despite everything, the picture is dog gone good.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The barks and pants sound like they are right outside the window keeping you awake at night. It doesn’t happen too often since these dogs can talk.
Puppy Marmaduke & Kitty Carlos: Home Movies (3:28): You know the horrible home video’s your uncle makes when he say’s exactly what is happening like, “this is grandma and she’s knitting in her chair” as we clearly can see that grandma is sitting there knitting? Well the son does that exact atrocious home vide commentary as the pets, Marmaduke and Carlos, first meet and lay around doing normal pet things that are only cute to the owners.
Marmaduke Mayhem! Gag Reel (2:40): The cast makes smiley faces when they shouldn’t. Nothing gag worthy here unless you are using it in the sick term.
Deleted Scenes (9:28): 8 scenes that do not improve the film in anyway. These also have yet to be digitally enhanced to make the animal’s mouth move, which frankly was less creepy.
Cowabarka! (5:17): Dog surfing is an actual thing and this is the process of training the dogs to get use to the water then gradually surf.
Canine Casting (2:49): This is more bad commentary but by an adult this time as we see some dogs showing off their obedience training in order to get a part in MARMADUKE.