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dir Tom Dey
prd John Davis, Tom Dey
src Tim Rasmussen, Vince Di Meglio
with Lee Pace, Judy Greer, William H Macy, David Walliams
voices Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, Stacy Ferguson, Kiefer Sutherland, George Lopez, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Steve Coogan, Sam Elliott
release US 4.Jun.10, UK 18.Aug.10
10/US Fox 1h22
Man's best friend: Pace, Macy and Marmaduke
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
The comic strip hasn't been funny for 20 years, so filmmakers actually had a chance here to create something witty and clever from the premise. But no. This is lazy, by-the-numbers Hollywood filmmaking at its most pointless.
Phil and Debbie (Pace and Greer) have a happy life in Kansas, but decide to uproot to Southern California for Phil's new job working for the eccentric owner (Macy) of an organic pet foot company. They head west with their three kids and massive Great Dane, Marmaduke (voiced by Wilson). As everyone struggles to adjust to this new life, Marmaduke falls for the snobby pedigree collie Jezebel (Ferguson) while the lovelorn mutt Mazie (Stone) helps him fit into the West Coast doggie community better.
Essentially, the plot is lifted straight from The OC, complete with the theme tune and a couple of clips, as Marmaduke behaves like a gawky teen trying to adjust to a South Coast high school and fall in love with the right girl. Not only is this storyline completely random, but there isn't one moment of originality in it. Nor is there a single witty line of dialog; even when the chance presents itself, the one-liners are flat and uninspired.
There's also the problem of the talking animals, which move their mouths to speak incessantly. But this is more distracting than cute. And it gets much worse whenever an obviously animated dog or cat appears to replace the real animal performers for a bit of strained slapstick. This approach gives the voice cast plenty to do, and they give it their all, but it's so misguided from the start that we simply can't engage with it.
Instead we find ourselves wondering why gifted and likeable actors like Pace and Greer are in this movie at all. When either of them are on the screen, the film is almost watchable. And Macy's small, silly role is almost forgivable, as is Walliams' thankless cameo. Yet while the grown-ups find themselves bracing against the next onslaught of unfunny comedy and unearned sentimentality, the kids will just be getting restless. Lassie come home, we need you.
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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