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CGI and Talking Animals at the Expense of Quality

Movie Review: Marmaduke (2010)
Spoilers: none

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It's talking animals once again in Marmaduke, the story of a big, clumsy Great Dane that, along with Phil Winslow (Lee Pace) and family, moves to Orange County, California. Phil is a dog food sales promoter and the proud owner of a large and undisciplined Great Dane named Marmaduke. 

Marmaduke narrates and talks...too much, which doesn't make a lot of sense since the original Marmaduke cartoon's dog never did. Marmaduke the movie is a failure as a comedy that will only generate laughs with very young children, and is not so much based on the comic as much as the fans might be expecting, but is a gaseous and goofy exploration of canine fun for young audiences that the directors obviously didn't think too highly of.

The movie is a cheap attempt to use CGI to create yet another talking animal kid's story, which is more about the dogs than it is the kids in a film that practically begs to be bashed by critics everywhere. No one falls face-first in crap the whole way through, which is a big surprise, considering the relatively few number of wacky knockdowns and insulting dog-surfing routines shown.

As is to be expected, the human characters are inordinately focused on dog affairs rather than people affairs, but there is actually a plot here for children about acceptance and friendship, making the story emotionally weighty in the right places.

Marmaduke may lack originality or cleverness in any form whatsoever, but is only a little ways behind Monsters vs. Aliens (2009) in quality, and perhaps a little more so in appeal. But the animals are adorable and will win over members of the audience when the plot and the acting fail to do so.

With the voice talents of Owen Wilson (as Marmaduke), George Lopez (as Carlos the cat), Steve Coogan (as Raisin), Sam Eliot (as Chupadogra), and Keifer Sutherland (as alpha dog, Bosko), this one is not quite as big of an abysmal disappointment as many moviegoers have made it out to be. Two stars for the wanting, but warm-hearted, Marmaduke.

(JH)

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Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG (for rude humor and language)
Director: Tom Dey
Summary: A suburban family moves to a new neighborhood with their large yet lovable Great Dane, who has a tendency to wreak havoc in his own oblivious way.
Starring: Owen Wilson "Marmaduke" (voice), Emma Stone "Mazie" (voice), George Lopez "Carlos" (voice), Raugi Yu "Drama Trainer" Christopher Mintz-Plasse "Giuseppe" (voice), Steve Coogan "Raisin" (voice), Stacy Ferguson "Jezebel" (voice), Kiefer Sutherland "Bosco" (voice), Marlon Wayans "Lightning" (voice), Damon Wayans Jr. "Thunder" (voice), Sam Elliott "Chupadogra" (voice), Lee Pace "Phil Winslow," Judy Greer "Debbie Winslow," Caroline Sunshine "Barbara Winslow," Finley Jacobsen "Brian Winslow"
Genre: Comedy / Family
Trailer

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