Rated PG for some rude humor and language, 87 minutes
"Marmaduke": Easy, dull laughs for the whole family
I grew up on the "Marmaduke" comic strip and always enjoyed the adventures of the giant Dane and his family the Winslows, who didn't quite know what to do with him. I'm not so sure that Great Danes are so greatly entertaining, though, which may explain the reason for another talking animal movie. Banal but energetic, "Marmaduke" moves in such a breezy manner, you may forget the movie is as bad as Marmaduke's breath.
The film is filled with voices you may know (Owen Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland, George Lopez), ones you may have difficulty recognizing (is that really Fergie as a collie?) and jokes you've seen a thousand times before. "Marmaduke" the film bears little resemblance to the far funnier comic strip, and it follows the Winslows (decent actors Lee Pace and Judy Greer, totally wasted here) as they trek from their native Kansas to California. In tow are their kids and animals, including Marmaduke (voiced with lazy appeal by Wilson) and their cat Carlos (Lopez). Everyone has difficulty fitting in, including the kids and the animals, who must deal with some "pedigreed" animals (Sutherland, Fergie) who look down the mutts.
A few fun moments and a predictable, heartwarming premise highlight "Marmaduke," an otherwise forgettable experience that only the younger ones will really enjoy. Marmaduke has a party, gets into trouble with the family and the other dogs trying to fit in and gets trapped in the film's climax. I can bet you $10 that you can guess what happens, and you didn't have to suffer, I mean, sit through this film.
The film does essentially the same thing as the similarly themed and equally dreadful "Garfield": add a well-known voice of a charming comic actor (Bill Murray was Garfield, Wilson, with lazy appeal, does the honors here). Based on the appeal of Wilson alone, the film will likely be a modest hit with families looking for family entertainment. But even family entertainment should be good, after all, even young ones can smell poo. On that note, go if you must, but it won't be pleasant.