Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Owen Wilson, George Lopez, Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Steve Coogan
Director: Tom Dey
Genres: Comedy, Kids & Family
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Lewis P. (Turfseer) from NEW YORK, NY
Reviewed on 12/11/2010...
Talking dogs provide corny but wholesome family entertainment
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Since I'm a big dog lover (and I loved 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua'), I had great expectations for 'Marmaduke'. It's based on a well-known comic strip but isn't as intense as 'Chihuahua'. The plot focuses on Phil, a marketing consultant, who moves his family from Kansas to Orange County, California after being hired by Don Twombly (William H. Macy), owner of Bark Organics, a new age pet food company. Phil owns the star of the film, a Great Dane named Marmaduke (who speaks to the film audience but cannot be heard by the characters in the film). Marmaduke the film is less sophisticated than 'Chihuahua' since its human antagonist, Twombly, is a wacky passive-aggressive type as opposed to the more realistic, sinister gang member/dog napper in Beverly Hills Chihuahua (BHC).
Just like in BHC, Marmaduke, our dog protagonist, is opposed by an aggressive and intimidating canine, Bosco (a Beauceron). Phil's internal arc is linked to Marmaduke's as they both make the mistake of becoming social climbers and turn their back on family and friends. In Phil's case, he comes up with an ad campaign involving a dog surfing contest, designed to attract Petco as a possible buyer of Bark Organic pet food. Phil becomes so involved in his job that he doesn't pay enough attention to his children.
Meanwhile, Marmaduke is trying to impress Bosco's girlfriend, a beautiful collie named Jezebel, by staging a fight with his cat friend, Carlos, at a dog park (George Lopez voices Carlos and also can be heard as a canine sidekick in BHC). Soon afterward, Marmaduke wins the dog surfing contest but alienates the Petco executives when he gets into a fight with Bosco.
Things only get worse for the human and dog protagonists. Marmaduke's mixed breed friends which include Mazie (who jealously watches from afar when Marmaduke goes on a 'dream date' with Jezebel) Raisin, a brainy Dachshund with an English accent and Giuseppe, a fearful Chinese crested pooch, boycott the party he throws for the pedigree dogs from the dog park. After Bosco exposes the link between Carlos and Marmaduke, the uppity pedigree dogs led by Bosco, trash Phil's house and leave Marmaduke with a shattered ego. Crushed by the rejection by those who he considered his friends, Marmaduke runs off to the woods where he meets a dog in the wild, Chupadogra, an old English Mastiff who is reputed to have killed his owner.
Chupadogra reinforces the theme of the movie: never judge a book by its cover. Chupadogra, in actuality, was the leader of a pack of strays who abandoned him. He's not as scary once you get to know him and ends up saving Marmaduke by chasing off a rather unpleasant dog catcher. Meanwhile, Phil returns from his work/vacation and promptly drops his laptop in the backyard pool which contains his final ad campaign to woo Petco.
Phil finally realizes that he has betrayed his values and tells Don he can't attend the big meeting with Petco since he has to find the lost Marmaduke. In a dramatic denouement, Phil saves Marmaduke from drowning after he falls into a rainwater conduit and is swept away by raging waters. Marmaduke too sees the light by returning to the dog park, speaks out against prejudice (he argues mixed breeds are just as good as pedigrees) and wins over all the dogs, except for Bosco who exits, vowing revenge.
Unlike BHC, where I was laughing out loud at some of the jokes, 'Marmaduke' will not have you rolling on the floor. A lot of the jokes are pretty corny (especially the bit about Marmaduke farting). Nonetheless, at its core, 'Marmaduke' has a positive message in its rejection of careerism and the need for tolerance between people who come from diverse backgrounds.