A suburban family moves from Kansas to California for a new job, taking Marmaduke, their large and lovable Great Dane, who has a tendency to wreak havoc in his own oblivious way. Trouble begins when he intrudes on the turf of local Alpha Male, Bosco (Kiefer Sutherland) whose moll is the collie, Jezebel (Stacy Ferguson), for whom Marmaduke develops an instant crush, while Mazie (Emma Stone) pines for him and acts as his guardian in this new world.
Review by Louise Keller:
Kids will squeal and laugh at the antics of Marmaduke, a family friendly live action doggie comedy based on the popular comic strip, in which the lovable Great Dane talks, dances, surfs, sings a lullaby, sets up a dream date and hosts a dog-pool party. He farts, too, although let it be said that a well-bred dog like Marmaduke (endearingly voiced by Owen Wilson) does so, mainly from design rather than lack of control. It's mindless fun as Marmaduke negotiates who's Top Dog, just as his human owner Phil Winslow (Lee Pace) does the same in his new marketing job in sunny California. Needless to say, the humans take the back seat in the film; no-one can compete with scene stealing canines that take centre stage, (as well as human characteristics and foibles) and embark on an entertaining journey in which being an outcast is a key theme.
When we first meet Marmaduke, the 200lb Great Dane, his best pal the cool Russian blue feline Carlos (hilariously voiced by George Lopez) and his human family, it is clear that his personality is as large (and insecure) as his physicality. Scriptwriters Tim Rasmussen and Vince Di Meglio have put together a happily wild script that flies high into fantasy land, but remains grounded by emotional truths. The story is from the dog's point of view and that first scene, when the family has moved from Kansas to Orange County, and Phil takes Marmaduke to the dog-park to meet the eccentric boss of the organic dog food company Don Twombly (William H. Macy in fine fettle), we see that the dog hierarchy is alive and well, as the Mutts face the Pedigrees.
The dogs come in all shapes and sizes: there's Mazie (sweetly voiced by Emma Stone), the kind-hearted mutt who befriends Marmaduke, alpha male Bosco (gruffly voiced by Keifer Sutherland) and pretty Collie Jezebel (Stacy Ferguson in syrupy tones) who behaves - well - like a Jezebel. It's short and sweet and never outstays its welcome as Marmaduke canvasses his new terrain, new buddies and challenges. It's about family, belonging and recognising what is important in life - like Home is Where The Dog Is.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Causing havoc in a comic since the early 1950s, Marmaduke was never meant to star in his own movie; trying to strap a story to his back ends up a clunky and often lame affair, although some of the undemanding kiddies will no doubt enjoy the talking animals and the pratfalls. The voice cast does as much as they can to liven up the plodding script, with Owen Wilson perfectly cast as the well meaning but hopeless Marmaduke, Sam Elliott as outcast veteran warrior Chupadogra and Kiefer Sutherland as Bosco the bully who reigns supreme in the dog park.
Running the range of animalistics from cute to silly to paranoid, the dog cast and mouth-moving CGI work tirelessly to amuse, but often fall short. Adults are advised to take impressionable children who may get animated with excitement so as to get a mild vicarious thrill.
Technically flawless (if you like to see animals mouthing English) the film rushes through its scant plot to bring us a couple of predictable resolutions. One involves the ordinary, middle class family whose life seems one dimensional, in which the father (Lee Pace) learns how not to be a selfish prat. The other involves Marmaduke's journey of learning how not to be a selfish prat.
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CAST: Lee Pace, Judy Greer, Caroline Sunshine, Finlay Jacobsen, David Williams, William H. Macy, Mandy Haines, Raugi Yu
VOICES: Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, George Lopez, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Steve Coogan, Stacey Ferguson, Kiefer Sutherland, Marlon Wayans, Damon Wayans Jr, Sam Elliott,
PRODUCER: Tom Dey, John Davis
DIRECTOR: Tom Dey
SCRIPT: Tim Rasmussen, Vince Di Maglio (comic by Brad Anderson, Phil Leeming)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Greg Gardiner
EDITOR: Don Zimmerman
MUSIC: Christopher Lennertz
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sandy Cochrane
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Vic, Qld, NT: June 24; SA, WA, NSW: July 1, 2010
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