Marmaduke's Manipulated Mandibles
Movies made from popular comic strips are always a difficult concept because more often than not a favourite cartoon character which you have grown up on will be used as the focus of a movie aimed at children, immediately alienating adults. And that is exactly the problem which befalls "Marmaduke" because whilst the comic strip has been around for decades this live action version whilst technically a family movie is really focussed on amusing young children. What that means is a lot of manipulated mandibles as we have a variety of talking dogs coupled with a lot of daft humour and a few doggy smell gags which are dumb as anything for grown ups but will amuse younger audiences.
With Phil (Lee Pace) being offered a better job in Orange County, California the Winslow family are moving and their loveable Great Dane Marmaduke is going with them. Whilst initially struggling to fit in with the other dogs he meets at the dog park Marmaduke meets Mazie and her misfit friends who accept him as one of their own. The only trouble is that Marmaduke has his eyes on the beautiful Jezebel but in order to win her affections he needs to beat Bosco to become top dog. Meanwhile as Phil is focused on making his new job work he doesn't see that his children are unhappy with the move.
So from an adults point of view "Marmaduke" is poor, simple as that as we have a corny storyline and even cornier gags which are rarely funny and then there is a lot of manipulated mutt mandibles which to be honest I have never liked. But then as already mentioned "Marmaduke" isn't a movie made for those who have grown up on the comic strip but for young children who will find talking dogs, dancing dogs and surfing dogs as well as smelly doggy farts funny. And to be honest as a movie made for children it works, it may not amuse a grown up but it delivers the simple humour that children tend to like.
Aside from a lot of dumb gags what we also get is a parable; yes beneath all the humour "Marmaduke" has a message as well. It's not that subtle or original as basically Marmaduke forgets his friends when he becomes top dog whilst Phil forgets the importance of family over career but at least it gives the movie some sort of purpose.
Now whilst "Marmaduke" did little to amuse me it did get some things very right and the selection of dogs they had was brilliant especially the dog which plays Mazie which was beautiful. But it also got the dog's personas right with good casting of actors to voice the various mutts from Emma Stone as Mazie to Kiefer Sutherland as Bosco. And then there is Owen Wilson as the voice of Marmaduke who whilst I couldn't get out of my head "Marley & Me" the whole time was actually well chosen.
What this all boils down to is that simply "Marmaduke" is not a movie for grown ups who have grown up reading the comic strip but for young children who will find talking dogs and doggy fart jokes funny. And as such I have to say it works for its target audience even if it is a disappointment for everyone else.
Tags: Dog Movies