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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Marmaduke

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Lee Pace stars in a scene from the movie "Marmaduke."
Young children might like "Marmaduke" (Fox), a comedy based on the adventures of the titular comic-strip Great Dane. Adults, on the other hand, are likely to find it about as charming as a bucket of doggie drool.

Director Tom Dey and screenwriters Tim Rasmussen and Vince Di Meglio unload a slapstick-laden story with Marmaduke (voiced by Owen Wilson) as a gangly adolescent attempting to fit in with canine cliques at a dog park that represents high school. A parallel plot has his human family, the Winslows, making the same transformation after they move from Kansas to Southern California where the father (Lee Pace) takes a marketing job for a pet-food company.

Most of the humor derives from the shopworn "he fall down, go boom" formula, as Marmaduke, with wisecracking cat sidekick Carlos (voice of George Lopez), navigates the shoals of high school stereotypes: the tough-talking Bosco (voice of Kiefer Sutherland), the pedigreed collie princess Jezebel (voice of Stacy Ferguson), and the funky gal mutt Mazie (voice of Emma Stone) who's just right for him if he'd only notice.

At the same time, Dad Winslow is adjusting to his quirky boss Don Twombly (William H. Macy), who is desperately trying to sign a national distributor for his organic pet food.

Since there are only so many ways that dogs can run around, fight and tear up furniture, Dey has their computer-animated mouths do a lot of talking. And, oh, do they chatter away. When they're not complaining or bullying, much of their dialogue consists of stale riffs on lines from other films.

The one brief evocative moment comes when the animals are mercifully silent. Marmaduke, beset by considerable troubles of his own making, runs away on a stormy night. On a lonely street, on a store window TV, he sees the Disney classic "Old Yeller." That tale has impeccable production values, sincere performances and a nontalking dog that has made audiences burst into loving, cathartic sobs for generations. Too bad these filmmakers couldn't take that as their inspiration.

The film contains some mild scatological humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


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Elizabeth of Portugal: Elizabeth is usually depicted in royal garb with a dove or an olive branch. At her birth in 1271, her father, Pedro III, future king of Aragon, was reconciled with his father, James, the reigning monarch. This proved to be a portent of things to come. Under the healthful influences surrounding her early years, she quickly learned self-discipline and acquired a taste for spirituality. Thus fortunately prepared, she was able to meet the challenge when, at the age of 12, she was given in marriage to Denis, king of Portugal. She was able to establish for herself a pattern of life conducive to growth in God’s love, not merely through her exercises of piety, including daily Mass, but also through her exercise of charity, by which she was able to befriend and help pilgrims, strangers, the sick, the poor—in a word, all those whose need came to her notice. At the same time she remained devoted to her husband, whose infidelity to her was a scandal to the kingdom. 
<p>He, too, was the object of many of her peace endeavors. She long sought peace for him with God, and was finally rewarded when he gave up his life of sin. She repeatedly sought and effected peace between the king and their rebellious son, Alfonso, who thought that he was passed over to favor the king’s illegitimate children. She acted as peacemaker in the struggle between Ferdinand, king of Aragon, and his cousin James, who claimed the crown. And finally from Coimbra, where she had retired as a Franciscan tertiary to the monastery of the Poor Clares after the death of her husband, she set out and was able to bring about a lasting peace between her son Alfonso, now king of Portugal, and his son-in-law, the king of Castile.</p> American Catholic Blog In the name of the Father, use my mind to bring you honor, and of the Son, fill my heart to spread your word, and of the Holy Spirit, strengthen me to carry you out to all the world. Amen.

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