Blu-ray
One to Avoid
2 stars
Overall Grade
2 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
0.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
2.5 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0.5 Stars
Bottom Line
One to Avoid

Marmaduke

Street Date:
August 31st, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
September 2nd, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2010
Studio:
20th Century Fox
Length:
88 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Taking a page from the pun-filled book of the 'Marmaduke' writers, I'd like to subtitle this review as "Marma-don't! Please, just DON'T!"

Have you ever finished a movie and sat there for a while thinking, "Why in the world did I just subject myself to that?" That's how I felt after watching 'Marmaduke,' but my answer was that I had to sit through it for this review. If you sit through this movie voluntarily, heaven help you.

'Marmaduke' is based loosely on the comic strip you see in the funnies section. A Great Dane, voiced by Owen Wilson, has a lot on his mind and he isn't above telling us. Instead of keeping his thoughts as narrations inside his head like he should, the filmmakers saw fit to create CGI moving mouths so Marmaduke actually speaks to us with synched up lips. This creates a conundrum that I'm not sure the filmmakers thought about or even cared about. Why is it important that we see Marmaduke's mouth move? Marmaduke talks and talks and talks, but obviously, his owners can't hear him. So, if his mouth is moving in humanistic talking patterns then do the humans see that? Or is it only for our "benefit?" Should we even care? Okay, so I didn't have much to think about during this movie, because the entire fiasco consists of 90 or so minutes of badly constructed dog related puns.

Maybe the saddest thing about this whole talking animal affair is that there's a group of actors stuck in this movie that I respect and admire. Watching them whore themselves out for a movie like this saddens this movie watcher's heart. When Marmaduke meets his nemesis Bosco, I sat back on my couch, put my hands on my head and bemoaned, "Why Kiefer, why?!" Yes, Kiefer Sutherland is wasted in this movie, along with other seasoned actors like the venerable William H. Macy, Lee Pace, Judy Greer, and Sam Elliott.

All this talk and I haven't even discussed the little plot that 'Marmaduke' has. So, Marmaduke's family has to move to Orange County, California because his owner Phil (Pace) has been transferred there. And that's about it. I'm not kidding. Marmaduke gets into misadventures as he roams the streets of Southern California with other dogs. He meets Bosco (Sutherland) leading his own band of Lost Dogs (get it? That's a 'Lost Boys' reference. Kiefer reprises his role of gang leader for a group with extra long incisors).

Dog pun after dog pun is thrown out, until you find yourself thinking, what else can they do with puns? Then they trot out a winning gem like the name of the mysterious dog who roams the streets called Chupadogra (Elliott). Yeah, that's the extent of the wit residing in 'Marmaduke.'

After some research I found out that Great Dane life expectancy is less than ten years due to the way they're built and how they've been bred. This is the movie's greatest asset, hopefully Marmaduke doesn't live to see a sequel.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

About the only thing to mention here is that 'Marmaduke' also comes with a DVD of the movie. Just in case your kids want to annoy you endlessly with the movie in the car too.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Fortunately 'Marmaduke' looks really nice in 1080p, but then again who's still reading this review deciding on whether or not they want to subject themselves to this monstrosity?

The movie is alive with an exciting color scheme that could only exist in Southern California. The colors of the dog park are the best part of the film. Bright pink, red, and blue flowers pinned against a back drop of rich, green perfectly manicured grass. Having just come from theaters, on a big budget, you'd pretty much expect this movie to look as pristine as humanly possible. I was surprised by the layer of grain that inhabits the movie, it's not like you really need to make something like this look cinematic, but it's there. There are not technical anomalies to report or horrible source noise to shout about. If I have one complaint, it goes back to the animals mouths moving in synch with their dialogue. It looks terrible. I'm pretty sure high definition makes it look even more fake, as there are times where you're pretty sure the mouth made the completely wrong movement for the syllable it was saying.

If you absolutely must buy this for your kids, because they're drooling for it, then rest assured it's a good looking transfer.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

'Marmaduke's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation leaves a lot to be desired, but your kids won't really care all that much. Just for professionalism, I'll run through the paces here.

The dialogue is placed nicely in the front and center channels. Marmaduke spends most of his time running around and knocking stuff over so the directional placement of such events works well. LFE is given a good set of stuff to cover, from bumping hip-hop music, to the thunderous roar of Marmaduke's farts. The rear channels, however, are sucking wind for most of the film. There are plenty of times where the movie did provide scenes that lend themselves to surround sound delights, like when Marmaduke surfs through a gigantic wave, when he runs through the house knocking over everything in his path, or when he rides a torrent of rushing water to save his friend. Unfortunately, none of these scenes translated into anything resembling an engaging surround sound experience.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Puppy Marmaduke and Kitty Carlos: Home Movies (HD, 3 min.) – Just like how the title describes it. Marmaduke and Carlos become friends when they're little tykes through some short misadventures.
  • Marmaduke Mayhem! (HD, 3 min.) – Mayhem indeed. This is your standard gag reel with messed up lines, and animals not doing what they're supposed to be doing.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 9 min.) – If you're into the movie (which I can't imagine you would be) then there are a few worthwhile scenes to check out here, like the one where we find out how Marmaduke got his ridiculous name.
  • Cowabarka! (HD, 5 min.) – See what I mean about all the dog puns? Blech! Anyway, yes this is about dogs surfing. Real dogs, not CGI dogs like in the movie. Here's a quick guide to teach your doggie how to surf if you're into that sort of thing, or are thinking about seeing how close you can get to making your lovable family dog into shark bait.
  • Canine Casting (SD, 3 min.) – Audition roles for some of the animals that were considered for parts. I know huh, these features just keep getting better and better.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 min.) – In case for some crazy, unknown reason you hadn't yet had too much Marmaduke, then head on over to the features and get excited for the movie all over again with this hilarious (not really) trailer of the movie.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • The Fabulous Life of Hollywood Pets (4 min.) – This disc is BD-Live ready and there is an extra feature contained there that you can't get on the disc. It takes you through some of the cast and crew's doggie friends, and how they live.

Final Thoughts

I'll tell you one thing, I'm freaking sick of typing "Marmaduke." I mulled over typing Duke for short, but then thought that would be a horrible offense to John Wayne. So from here until the end of this last paragraph I'm not going to type it again. This movie is terrible. Just awful. It's one of those kids films that threaten to make your kids dumber as they watch it. Would you rather have your kids laugh at a Great Dane's flatulence or at something witty from Pixar? I hate to always bring up Pixar, but really, why would you get this for your kids when you have a shelf full of awesome kids films already? Convince your kids that this movie just doesn't exist. That's your best bet.

Technical Specs

  • BD/DVD Combo Pack

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin

Supplements

  • Cowabarka! Surfing Dogs
  • Canine Casting
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Marmaduke Mayhem! Gag Reel
  • Puppy Marmaduke and Kitty Carlos: Home Movies

Exclusive HD Content

  • The Fabulous Life of Hollywood Pets

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

Related reviews