- Released Internationally on 27/05/10
- Released in Malta by KRS on 18/08/10
Preview (first published 01/08/10 in VIDA magazine)
If you’re browsing through the action and looking for something to treat your children to (after taking them to see Toy Story 3, of course), your best bet this month is the accident prone Great Dane Marmaduke. Starting life as a comic strip, the crazy canine can now wreak havoc on the big screen, in what looks like a cross between Marley and Me and Scooby-Doo.
Size does matter
I'm not a dog person. Few things attract me less than a hefty dog clawing at my trousers or slobbering all over my face. But Marmamduke managed to win me over, at least for the duration of the film, despite being as hefty and as slobbery as they come. The enormous Great Dane, practically a pony in the size department, boasts enough charm and character to carry the whole film as the star, largely due to Owen Wilson's voice acting. Whether you'll enjoy an entire film full of talking dogs is another matter.
The film starts off metaphorically, showing how hard it can be for an unusually tall boy to fit in at school. The focus then shifts to the dog world, where Marmaduke has to stamp through life with the clumsy burden of his unusual size. But the similarities with teenagers fitting in at school doesn't end there, because in many ways the whole film is simply a teenage drama - new friends, new romantic interests, bullying, learning life lessons - but set in the dog parks and rubbish dumps of California, rather than within school corridors.
Who's in it?
The cast of dog voices assembled is quite impressive. Comedian George Lopez spars with Marmaduke as Carlos, the luxurious cat who shares a family and household with the titular giant. Fergie, of Black Eyed Peas fame, is Jezebel, a blow-dried collie who catches Marmaduke's eye in the park, and Keifer Sutherland (24, Phone Booth) is the vicious and jealous boyfriend she has growling at her side.The wonderful, gravelly voice of Sam Elliot (The Big Lebowski, Hulk) adds menace and wisdom to Chupadogra, the much-feared local outcast with a history of rabies, and the Wayans brothers try to add some humour as Thunder and Lightning, the dim-witted henchmen. On the human side, Lee Pace (The Fall, A Single Man) gets dragged around as Marmaduke's owner, and William H. Macy (Magnolia, Fargo) has a small role as his tree-hugging boss.
The film is simple enough, and works as a light, dog-oriented comedy which will probably go down better with young children than with anyone else. The main messages of the movie - friends, priorities, etc., also seemed aimed at the younger part of the audience, and are messages that merit repeating. The star of the show was portrayed by two twin dogs, and CGI lip-synching was added in later. This makes all the scenes believable enough, although it's nothing we haven't seen countless times before.
Despite all the above however, the film is ultimately a far-fetched excuse to bring yet another talking-animal film to the screens. No part is extremely bad, but no part is very good either, so don't expect another Homeward Bound or anything that will move you deeply or make you laugh out loud. Sadly, the powers that be deemed that it was necessary to add some toilet humour too, including the film's final scene, whereas everything would have worked fine without it.
In the end
Nothing new, nothing special. A simple, rather fun film for dog lovers and children of all ages.