Marmaduke (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
1Sep/100

Marmaduke (2010)

Andrew DISLIKEI remember smiling once or twice during Marmaduke.  It was when that delightful little dog Raisin, voiced by Steve Coogan, came onscreen.  He'd say something abnormally smart for a dog (and a lot of humans) then retreat back into the wild, awaiting his next call to action.  When he wasn't onscreen I was adrift in a humorless nether realm, trapped with an unfunny dog and a family in the grips of an unnameable psychosis.

Marmaduke delivers exactly what it promises.  A very large dog is onscreen for about an hour and twenty minutes, then the filmmakers hope he will leave a void in our hearts when he departs.  There are some prat falls, some fart jokes, a bit of the good old fashioned ethnic stereotyping, then a giant CGI dance number leading into the credits.

He wants a .45 so that he can reenact his favorite moment from The Deer Hunter.

The film's end is without a soul of any kind.  Furry Vengeance at least had the air of desperation.  This was made so that parents would have something to do when their kids won't shut up and so that a movie company gets to make a profit.  There's never an indication that the ambition went beyond that, so how can I really evaluate it?  Well, mostly because Marmaduke tricked $70 million worth of people into believing that their lives are so meaningless that they can afford to waste them watching this.

But what's so special about Marmaduke?  For starters, he never shuts up.  He's always complaining and reducing everything to the most superficial level possible.  Owen Wilson does not help this at all.  He can be a good actor, but here he's asked to deliver dialogue that was written to be comprehended by five year olds and asked to deliver it in his best Matthew McConaughey manner.

This is not pleasant.

Less pleasant are the standard array of stereotypes that seem to permeate these kid friendly animal films.  I've yet to encounter a chihuahua that speaks in anything but the broadest Latino accent.  By extension, these dogs are always really lazy.  Lovely cultural sensitivity Marmaduke, but you're still not breaking the mold.

Embrace dignity when you find it (look at his widdle bow tie!)

What is groundbreaking is Marmaduke's family.  I'm trying to decide if they're just a group of painfully negligent humans or if they've gone psychotic because of technology's reach into their lives.  They let the three and a half year old walk a Great Dane by herself, and, when this fails, they have long, serious talks with Marmaduke.  He can eat anything, wreck the house with no repercussions, and then escape by hypnotizing the family (quite literally, the big M does this so that he can go out and party).

I long for a film that utilizes the same surroundings as filtered through a dog that has the same impulses as this one.

Marmaduke wants to impress a collie, ignores the cute mutt, and betrays his friends. That's all paralleled with strikingly similar issues his owner is having.  Everything gets resolved and then the audience gets to go home where, presumably, we're not going to be hypnotized by dogs.

Unless you actually own a dog.  If so, use caution.

Marmaduke (2010)

Directed by Tom Dey.
Written by Tim Rasmussen and Vince DiMeglio.
Starring Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, Steve Coogan and Lee Pace.

Posted by Andrew

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