It’s a big dog in a new city when Marmaduke moves from Kansas to LA. Can this dog navigate the cliques at the local dog park, help his owner get the bg marketing deal done, and maybe get the girl? Find out in… Marmaduke.
How?! Marmaduke is loving life in Kansas with his family, the Winslow’s. How do we know? Why he talks directly to the camera of course. Great! When the patriarch of the family, Phil, gets a new high-powered marketing job offer in Cali the family is pretty skeptical, Marmaduke most of all, but takes the risk anyway. Phil is tasked with getting a big deal done with Petco to market an organic dog food nationwide and is pretty stressed. Meanwhile Marmaduke finds himself relegated to the “mutt” clique at the dog park and is harassed relentlessly by the alpha dog Bosco and crushing hard on the local hottie Jezebel. With the help of his friend Mazie, a rad dog surfing competition, and a staged fight with his cat friend Carlos, Marmaduke breaks through with the cool crowd. Hooray! At the same time Phil continues to struggle with his work-life balance. This is further thrown out of kilter when Marmaduke throws a huge rager and ruins the house. Sent to the back yard as punishment Marmaduke runs away thinking he’s just a bad dog and no one loves him anymore. A distraught Winslow family goes off in search (his garbage plot point of a job be damned) only to find Mazie and Marmaduke sucked into a sinkhole (for real). Jumping in after him (like an idiot), Phil almost dies but I guess it’s cool because he doesn’t and saves Marmaduke instead. A video of Phil saving Marmaduke goes viral, Petco loves it and gives him the big deal, and everyone lives happily ever after. THE END.
Why?! At its essence the film is a high school comedy (about a giant gangly dog that literally doesn’t fit anywhere) meaning that the motivation is primarily to fit in. Marmaduke wants to be part of the cool crowd and most of the plot centers on how he goes about accomplishing that. Only at the end does he realize that friends are what truly matters, not being cool. The rest of the plot and motivations are meaningless kids film garbage to the highest degree.
What?! The obvious candidate is Petco, which is the name brand associated with Phil’s big marketing deal all the kids can’t wait to hear more about. Enough with the cute talking puppies! How will Phil figure out how to expand a regional brand to the middle of the country?! Gah!
Who?! The film is Fergalicious… what’s Fergalicious? Well apparently its definition is “make them boys go loco.” I certainly went loco once I found out that Fergie from our beloved Black Eyed Peas voiced the temporary love interest of Marmaduke. Not sure why the rest of Black Eyed Peas weren’t represented in the voice cast. I was less loco about that.
Where?! Caaaalllifffoorrrnia. Early contender for Location as a Character award for next year’s Smaddies Baddies. This is about California all day and every day and even has a scene where Marmaduke watches an episode of The OC in preparation for his big move… it was terrible but also reminded me how much I liked The OC so I was OK with that. A.
When?! I believe Marmaduke exists outside of time. Really there were few spots to even look for a date as we were mostly dealing with dogs that have little use for time. I didn’t see one, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one. Still, it currently stands at an F.
Not unexpectedly this movie is a pile of trash meant to get kids in the theater (but who cares what they think or care after than. Also welcome to hell, parents.). Much like Nine Lives, this boasts a ridiculous storyline that aims to interest kids in… pet food marketing? It really begs the question why kids films often have plots that are more boring than a car commercial. What isn’t questioned is our wisdom in bringing kids films back in the BMT fold. They are ridiculous and good for a bunch of bad movie tropes that I sorely missed: 1. Fart jokes 2. People getting hit in the balls 3. Inexplicable music videos 4. Things that are mildly racist. Children are basically a bunch of terrible people laughing at the misfortune of others and it can be fun sometimes to harken back to when we too were blissfully ignorant of how terrible we are as people. Not so fun when the film is Marmaduke though. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Oh what a life I live. A wonderful family, a good job, and, of course, a fun and exciting hobby to keep me occupied. Watching bad movies is a breeze. I wonder what we are watching today … Marmaduke? … Welp, it was a good run boys, pack it in. Sigh, why can’t I quit you BMT? Let’s get into it.
The Good – I liked Judy Greer, and William H. Macy in this. And the voice cast is off the chain. Other than that this movie is a big pile of dog poo shoved forcefully into my face. So, no, I refuse to discuss anything else “good” about this film. As somewhat of a departure I’m actually going to skip a game here so that I can write a longer remake in the next section.
The Bad (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Pheeeew giant doggie. Let’s see, the story line is a classic A/B kid’s combo. The A story is that of Marmaduke, a dog from the Midwest just trying to find a place in his new home of Los Angeles. The B is that of a man trying to build a better life for his family as the marketing director for a dog food company. Why kids would have any interest in B I have no idea. The animated animals look terrible, like really bad. The jokes aren’t funny. The story makes little sense. The film ends with an aggravating sequence of Lee Pace saving Marmaduke and everyone living happily ever after. But I have to Remake it. I have to. In my remake the fundamental storyline is roughly the same, Lee Pace is a marketing director for a dog food brand who is trying to woo Midwestern customers. He loves his dog Marmaduke, despite the fact that he never listens to him, and within the inner monologue it is revealed that Marmaduke is basically afraid of everything and that is why he never listens to his owner. This also makes him an outcast at the dog park: he is a gentle giant who tends towards fear, and that gets him bullied. But Lee Pace’s new client loves Marmaduke: he is so goofily large. They insist that Marmaduke be in the commercial. This interferes with Marmaduke’s social status because the alpha dog in the park is the top dog actor in Los Angeles. Combine this with the fact that Marmaduke runs wild after trying to be coaxed into a trick during the commercial shoot and this dooms Lee Pace’s chance at making a good impression with his boss. Marmaduke, sad about his owner being mad at him and his friends all feeling betrayed by his sudden celebrity, decides to run away. When Marmaduke sees his friend-dog get swept away in a river he jumps after her realizing only his bravery can help his friend. Stuck in the roiling river Marmaduke is afraid and doesn’t know what to do, but there is his owner yelling for Marmaduke to trust him and to “come”. Marmaduke loves his owner, and takes the plunge, trusting that following his orders will save his life, which it does. Lee Pace convinces the dog food company that featuring “real” dogs in their ads is what will convince Midwestern owners to buy their food. The dog park rejoices because now all of the dogs, not just the beautiful purebreds, get to share in the Hollywood dream. The End.
The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – This piles in with things like Furry Vengeance, Nine Lives, and Dudley Do-Right for sure. It is probably best paired with Nine Lives because of how they use a very not-kid friendly B-plot to propel the story illogically forward. Someday I think we’ll kind of cut through our issues with kids’ films and really get to dig into them a bit, and Marmaduke, being objectively bad and having that B-plot adults can latch onto, would be right up there as some of the best-worst we’ve seen. As for street cred, I think kids’ films can kind of duck under the fray a bit. But Marmaduke did make the AV Club list for the year, so that is actually pretty impressive all things considered.
As far as adaptations I’m not sure what to say. The original strip is just kind of about a big dog … so they nailed that I think. Not to toot my own horn, but I think the remake I proposed would have done a bit better job at least highlighting Marmaduke being too big and uncooperative for the owner to handle, which … is kind of all the strip is about really. I would give the adaptation a C-, it is fine, it is passing, but it doesn’t even really get the one thing it needed to get right right, so I have to punish it for that.