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.
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.
'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.
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.