This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,”
and here’s my commentary on a film opening today at The Majestic Theater in
“Marmaduke” is based on a comic strip, so that tells you something
about the seriousness of this venture. It’s
all silliness. Like a good
TV sitcom, it plays the physical gags, then at the end boasts a family value
moral. The difference here is
that the main character is a dog: specifically,
a Great Dane named Marmaduke.
Owen Wilson supplies the voice of the adolescent Marmaduke, who loves
chewing on shoes, chasing other dogs, stealing sandwiches from the kitchen
counter, and generally doing what dogs do best.
He’s providing the social commentary for the “typical” American
family of Dad who works too hard, Mom who supports him except when he chooses
to ignore his family, Big Sis, who only wants to be cool in the eyes of his
friends, little brother, who wants to be a skateboarder, not a soccer player,
and baby girl, who just has a cute laugh.
The Winslow family moves from
, where, in the O.C., Marmaduke discovers that the
has a social order: pedigrees
rule. Mutts are second-class
citizens. The human equivalent is
obvious. Marmaduke, who can
“pass” for a pedigree, at first tries to fit in, even challenging the
Alpha Dog for the attention of the beautiful collie (fittingly named Jezebel)
who goes with the Alpha Dog. But
all this time he’s ignoring Mazie, the friendly mongrel who’s trying to
let the new dog know that she’s the one who won’t be fickle.
Somewhere in the middle, the easygoing comedy turns into an adventure.
Marmaduke, sloppy juvenile that he is, has managed to mess up so much that
he’s banned to the back yard, and when he escapes to the neighborhood, he
discovers that Mazie has fallen down a sinkhole, and he tries to rescue her.
Meanwhile, the Winslow family, searching for Marmaduke, discover
that’s he’s down the sinkhole, too, in the rushing water, and Dad jumps in
to save him, so that all can show their true loyalty lies in being a family.
Terminally cute. And then
the dogs do a line dance just before the credits?
Well, don’t expect too much. It’s
just a dog movie. Early
elementary kids will like it, and their parents can endure it.
Even the obligatory bathroom humor.
This is Ron Salfen, At The Movies, for