Director: Tom Dey
Cast: Owen Wilson, George Lopez, Stacy Ferguson, Kiefer Sutherland, William H. Macy, Lee Pace, Judy Greer, Jeremy Piven, Ron Perlman, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Steve Coogan, David Walliams, Finley Jacobsen, Emma Stone, Caroline Sunshine, Damon Wayans Jr.
RunTime: 1 hr 27 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.themarmadukemovie.com/
Opening Day: 3 June 2010
For Phil and Debbie Winslow, moving their family from Kansas to the O.C. is a big deal. For their enormous Great Dane 'Marmaduke', (voiced by Owen Wilson) however, the move means a whole new way of life. It's chaos at home and awkward at work as the Winslows struggle to control their angsty teenage canine.
Hollywood has decided that we need yet another talking dog
movie- but wait, haven’t we already had enough of those?
Apparently not, since it has deigned to turn Brad Anderson’s
famous newspaper comic strip character Marmaduke into a live-action
movie featuring a computer-generated talking Great Dane- with
the voice of Owen Wilson as the titular character no less.
Thank goodness for the presence of Owen Wilson, we say. Even
hidden behind an oblong face with floppy, triangular ears,
there’s no holding back the distinctive playfulness
and vivaciousness of the naturally talented comedian. Some
of the film’s best laugh-out-loud moments come courtesy
of Wilson’s wisecracking, and it is in these moments
that his character’s concomitant lively and light-hearted
personality is just too delightful to resist.
Unfortunately, there are just not enough of these moments.
Sure, the brilliant introduction that draws attention to what
it means to stand out and be different from the crowd is witty
and hilarious- as well too the largely amusing first half
that banks heavily on the mischievous antics of Marmaduke,
and those of his fellow canines hanging out in high-school
like cliques in a dog park. But it is in its second half that
the film quickly unravels- no thanks to a lacklustre screenplay
by Tim Rasmussen and Vince Di Meglio (co-writers too of the
similarly uneven Robin Williams’ comedy License to Wed).
Indeed, both writers seem so eager to rehash the plotlines
of other similarly-themed family comedies that they have quite
literally bitten off more than they can chew (pun intended).
On one hand, they want to tell a story of how Marmaduke’s
eagerness to fit in with the in-crowd (to quote the film,
‘to be a pedigree, not a mutt’) causes him to
forsake his true friends and become the dog he isn’t.
On the other, they also want to tell a story of how Marmaduke’s
owner, Phil Winslow (Lee Pine), gradually loses touch with
his family as he chooses what he thinks is best for his kids-
his teenage daughter Barbara and younger son Brian- and devotes
more time to his work than to his family.
Neither the stories nor their themes of being true to oneself
or the importance of family will be unfamiliar to audiences-
but not only are they not original, they are also disappointingly
undercooked. The mechanical storytelling becomes even more
apparent in the film’s latter half, as it strains to
bring closure to both these almost parallel story threads
in an unexciting finale. In fact, the inherent stodginess
of the lazy plotting is so obvious that even director Tom
Dey’s (of Shanghai Noon) best efforts to keep the film
moving along at a zippy pace fall flat.
And that is too bad really- for “Marmaduke” does
have good things going for it. The visual effects on display
here by Rhythm and Hues are excellent, especially in animating
the facial movements of each of the animals as they speak.
Credit also goes to the star-studded supporting voice cast,
including George Lopez, Sam Elliott, Steve Coogan, Fergie,
Kiefer Sutherland, Marlon Wayans and Damon Wayans, for giving
each of their characters, no matter how small, a unique personality.
Ultimately though, this mutt is undone by its own slobber.
Never mind that it stays predictably in family-friendly territory-
what leaves much to be desired is its slapdash storytelling
that does no favours for what is otherwise a mildly amusing
affair thanks to Owen Wilson. Of course, Wilson doesn’t
need a talking dog movie to be funny, so it stands to reason
that “Marmaduke” is mostly another unnecessary
addition to the genre. Time to muzzle the mutt, anyone?
(Just because the dog is bigger doesn’t mean
the laughs are better- and Marmaduke is only mildly amusing
thanks to Owen Wilson)
Review by Gabriel Chong