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Wednesday
Jun092010

Reviews From Someone With Questionable Sensibilities: Marmaduke

By: Brian Perry

Don't believe what you hear America - this long overdue big screen adaptation ain't no dog - Marmaduke is a best of breed family comedy.

Marmaduke is a movie that is going to grab you by the scruff of your neck and tell you in plain language exactly what is happening and why. Be warned that it won't ever let go until it pulls you along to the hilarious, heartwarming, flatulent conclusion.

While the average family comedy tends to either bend focus too far in the direction of the simple tastes of children or the sophisticated needs of their parents (most Pixar films make this mistake, except for the exceptional Cars), Marmaduke finds the perfect balance for all ages. It’s all in there--an elaborate cast of characters easily identifiable by telltale stereotypes, bodily function humor of the number two and oft-overlooked number one variety, drug references, and extremely specific pop culture references (Almost Famous, Titanic and The Fugitive just to name a few). See this film with your loved ones and you’ll hear every member of the family laughing simultaneously the whole time.

The acting in this film can't be overlooked.  Owen Wilson--who's thankfully no longer on suicide watch--truly owns the iconic role of Marmaduke. I can only imagine that Owen's agent must've handed him this life-affirming script moments after he slashed his left wrist, thus preventing him from opening up his right one, sticking them both in the toilet and flushing all the blood from his body. (Get well soon!)

Whether Marmaduke is playing Dance Dance Revolution, riding in a convertible with sunglasses on, or winning a surfing competition, Wilson truly embodies the awkwardness and size that defines the character. Supporting players also come close to stealing the show here. Carlos Mencia gets the biggest laughs of the film as "Cat." And in one of a handful of non-animal roles, William H Macy smartly keeps the focus on the hilarious talking animals. I was happy to see him finally downplay some of his showier acting tendencies here as I found that his work in Fargo distracted me from the snow and other peoples' funny accents.

While there is a lot to love here, I do have my gripes. The film spent very little time on subplots featuring members of Marmaduke’s human family--and very little time is far too much in a film like this. Why spend any time on developing the family when you’ve got a sure thing--talking, dancing animals? And although you can see every penny of the films $50 million dollar budget on screen, I couldn't help but wish that it was converted to 3D prior to release.

Issues aside, Marmaduke is at its core an extremely successful film. I've got my fingers crossed that the upcoming Heathcliff adaptation starring Tom Hanks works this well, but without the same creative team involved I’m not holding my breath. I'd love to see director Tom Dey move on to other sources begging for a big screen take like Family Circus or Hi and Lois, but in the meantime we’ve got a home run on our hands right now.

No reeking pile of dog shit here, this film is a marmamasterpiece!

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Reader Comments (1)

I'm excited to see it now.

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNate

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