This summer, we took our five-and-a-half year old to watch several kid friendly movies such as How to Train Your Dragon (Single Disc Edition), Toy Story 3, Shrek 4, etc. It is rather difficult to find a movie that a child and adults can enjoy together. When "Marmaduke" popped up at our local dollar movie theater, we decided to give it a try after receiving positive feedback from our friends with kids.
I can't really compare this movie with the comic strip which I grew up with. The writers have definitely used some creative license with the plot. Here, Marmaduke the Great Dane (voiced by Owen Wilson) is living happily in Kansas with his human family, the Winslows when Phil Winslow (Lee Pace) gets offered a promising new job with Bark Organics in the OC, California. The rest of the family is reluctant to make the big move but they do it anyway. Marmaduke finds himself in strange new surroundings, and discovers how even dogs' lives can be complicated with a social divide between the pedigrees, led by Bosco (Kiefer Sutherland) and his girlfriend Jezebel (Fergie) and the non-pedigree breeds aka mutts such as Maizie (Emma Stone),Raisin and Giuseppe. Marmaduke falls hard for Jezebel and inevitably ends up in a pickle when he attempts to be something he is not in a bid to win Jezebel's affections and gain the respect of the other dogs.
The human-centered plot is secondary to the dog-centered story, mainly revolving around Phil's attempts to please his demanding, eccentric boss (played by William Macy) and balancing the demands of work and family, which Phil fails at miserably.
The action is fast-paced so the youngsters in the audience don't get a chance to get fidgety (a great plus!), but the story is rather derivative and if you have high expectations for a well-plotted, intelligent movie then this is not it. On the other hand, if you just want to watch a fun movie with lots of dogs (many different breeds, and lots of well-groomed beautiful dogs such as Afghan hounds, etc.) then this might just entertain. It kept our daughter's attention and oh, we also loved Marmaduke's step-brother Carlos the Cat (George Lopez) and the Chupadogra (voiced by Sam Elliott)!