Published Aug 18 2010, 09:46 BST | By Ben Rawson-Jones
Appropriately enough for a movie about a talking dog, Marmaduke
is a total howler in dire need of putting down. Based on the popular comic strip, it bears a painfully contrived and predictable storyline that’s peppered with crude stereotypes and lame attempts at slapstick humour. Clearly aiming for a very young target audience, it’s fair to say that the movie is best suited to those who have just left the womb - for the simple fact that their incessant crying would at least drown out the execrable dialogue.
The flimsy tale revolves around a nondescript suburban family who relocate to another part of America, where their chatty and clumsy Great Dane Marmaduke becomes involved in various rivalries and romantic intrigues with the local pooches. A canine love triangle subplot pans out in the most obvious manner, the villain of the piece (a nasty guard dog voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) receives his inevitable comeuppance and there are some CGI doggy dance sequences that make Crufts look like the epitome of sophisticated entertainment. The human side of the story is simply too tedious to discuss, although William H. Macy pops up as an oddball boss and David Walliams makes a cameo appearance so small that it makes Arnold Schwarzenegger’s screen time in The Expendables
look excessive. The central message of the movie - about how different breeds and pedigrees all have a right to equality - is also conveyed terribly because of the preachy sermonising that accompanies it.
Although comfortably under 90 minutes, Marmaduke
is an epic chore to sit through. The opening section isn’t too bad, as the live action/CGI techniques that enable the animals to talk to the camera are initially impressive. Once that novelty wears off, which is very quickly, there is nothing to be remotely engaged about. Well, that is unless a procession of recycled fart gags and various ‘dogs doing bizarre human things’ montages (like surfing) excites you. Then again, there are people out there who like dressing dogs up in strange clobber - do a Google image search for ‘Sherlock Holmes dog costume’ and shudder at the results.
The voice artists are largely perfunctory and not to blame for the mess that unfolds on screen. Owen Wilson
manages to imbue the titular mutt with a disarming sense of excitability that never flags, while Sutherland deploys his Jack Bauer style whispery/shouty combo intonations to decent effect. There are no killer lines for anyone to sink their teeth into though, with the squandering of Steve Coogan’s vocal talents (as a smart Daschund) a particular waste.
“A dog is for life, not just for Christmas” goes the commendable saying. Ultimately, for poor old Marmaduke his shelf life consists of just a few minutes before you want to kick him and his dull cohorts off the cinema screen. Avoid this lazily written pedigree chump.> What do you think of the movie? Share your views