Radio 06.04.10
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my commentary on a film opening today at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :
            “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 Kansas to California , where, in the O.C., Marmaduke discovers that the Dog Park 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 93.5 KICK-FM