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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Tom Dey
Cast:
Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, George Lopez, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Steve Coogan, Stacy Ferguson, Kiefer Sutherland, Marlon Wayans
Writing Credits:
Tim Rasmussen, Vince Di Meglio, Brad Anderson (comic), Phil Leeming (comic)

Tagline:
Live Large.

Synopsis:
When advertising exec Phil Winslow (Lee Pace) gets an offer to head the account for a California-based dog-food company, he uproots his wife (Judy Greer), three kids, and their beloved Great Dane, Marmaduke (voiced by Owen Wilson), from Kansas to the Sunshine State. Once there, the big canine befriends a group of mutts at the local dog park, but after a surfing competition brings Marmaduke celebrity, he turns his back on his new pals. Eventually, a disaster helps the oversized hound and Phil learn about the importance of family and friendship.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$11.599 million on 3213 screens.
Domestic Gross
$33.566 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/31/2010

Bonus:
• “Puppy Marmaduke and Kitty Carlos: Home Movies” Featurette
• “Marmaduke Mayhem! Gag Reel”
• Deleted Scenes
• “Cowabarka!” Featurette
• “Canine Casting” Featurette
• Trailer
• DVD Copy
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Marmaduke [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 10, 2010)

Although 2004’s Garfield seems to be remembered as a hit, it really didn’t do that well at the box office. In this day and age, $75 million falls into the “perfectly decent” category but it doesn’t signify a real success.

Nonetheless, that was good enough to spawn a true sequel and a spiritual partner. In the latter category, we find 2010’s Marmaduke, another adaptation of a pet-related comic strip.

And another flop adaptation. The Garfield sequel ended up with only $28 million, and Marmaduke didn’t do much better. It grossed $33 million and was one of the summer’s box office disappointments.

Marmaduke (voiced by Owen Wilson) is a large, rambunctious Great Dane who hangs out with his feline “sibling” Carlos (voiced by George Lopez) and the human Winslow family. Phil (Lee Pace) gets a great job offer out of state, so the clan moves to SoCal from Kansas. We follow their transition, with an emphasis on Marmaduke’s new canine pals.

Even with Bill Murray in tow, Garfield was a disaster. With Owen Wilson in the lead here, can we expect Marmaduke to be any better? Reasonably, the answer should be no, but in truth, Marmaduke does provide the superior film.

Not that this means much since Garfield was such a depressing waste of time. Perhaps Marmaduke isn’t actually any better but my exceedingly low expectations made it seem that way. Anyway you shake it, I found this one to be utterly forgettable but not truly awful.

Which I’m hoping will become a press clip to advertise the movie, as the last quote is an extreme example of “faint praise”. As is “Not As Awful As Garfield!” Marmaduke probably works a little better because it relies less on one-liners from its lead character. Oh, Marmaduke definitely goes down that path, but not as heavily because Marmaduke is a more reactive character, while Garfield is supposed to be sly and snarky. Especially with Murray as the voice, we expect more cleverness from Garfield, while vaguely humorous exclamations are good enough for Marmaduke.

“Vaguely humorous” being a key phrase to describe the whole movie. Many kid-oriented flicks throw in gratuitous pop culture references in limp attempts to amuse the adults stuck in the crowd, and Marmaduke does that as well. Many are tired and predictable, but I’ll give it credit for some obscure ones, such as the lift from the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. While I can’t call that the funniest line I’ve heard, I like its relative obscurity.

Marmaduke does feature a pretty good voice cast, and unlike Murray, at least Wilson seems to have been awake at the recording sessions. None of the actors really add much to their lines, but they give them a little more verve than usual.

The humans onscreen fare less well. Even with talents like William H. Macy, none of them truly register. The filmmakers chose to spotlight the animals above all else, and while I can’t say that’s an incorrect choice, it does make the humans seem awfully superfluous. The film tries to tack on a plot thread about the issues that affect Marmaduke’s family, but it goes nowhere. The movie doesn’t develop them enough to make us care.

For the most part, Marmaduke offers little more than a compilation of catchphrases and slapstick. Despite its lack of ambition and general lowest common denominator feel, it’s not terrible. It’s not good, but “not terrible” feels like a victory for a movie of this sort.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

Marmaduke appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. No issues cropped up here.

Sharpness worked well. A smidgen of softness popped up in a few wide shots, but those instances remained minor. The majority of the flick offered crisp, accurate visuals. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge haloes failed to appear. Source flaws also remained absent.

Colors looked good. The image took on a golden tone much of the time, but the image stayed with a pretty natural impression. The hues seemed vivid and full. Blacks appeared dark and tight, while shadows showed nice delineation. Across the board, this was a strong presentation.

I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Marmaduke was unexceptional, though it worked fine for this sort of film. Of course, I didn’t expect a dazzling soundfield from this sort of kiddie comedy, and I got exactly what I anticipated. In terms of effects, general ambience ruled the day. Surround usage stayed limited; the back speakers gently fleshed out various settings but did little more than that. The “action climax” used the surrounds reasonably well, but I still didn’t think the track ever excelled.

In those forward channels, the music provided nice stereo separation and opened up the mix reasonably well. There wasn’t a whole lot of activity or movement, but the effects conveyed a passable sense of space and place. The track functioned appropriately for the story.

Audio quality appeared fine. Dialogue was consistently warm and natural, though I noticed a little edginess at times. Effects were a minor component of the mix, and they seemed appropriately subdued and accurate; there wasn’t much to hear, but the various elements were clean and distinct. The music came across as acceptably distinctive. This was a pretty standard “comedy mix” and became a decent reproduction of the material.

Don’t expect many extras. We begin with Puppy Marmaduke and Kitty Carlos: Home Movies. In this three-minute, 28-second reel, we see “home video footage” of the movie’s pets when they were young. It’s kind of an odd conceit and not especially interesting, though the animals are pretty cute.

Entitled Marmaduke Mayhem!, a gag reel goes for two minutes, 40 seconds. One might expect it to concentrate on shenanigans related to the many animals on the set, and we see a little of that, but usually it sticks with humans who blow their lines and laugh. A couple of slightly amusing moments result, but not much fun emerges here.

Eight Deleted Scenes fill a total of nine minutes, 21 seconds. These include “Three Dogmigos” (0:53), “This Is How We Roll In Cali” (0:42), “How Marmaduke Got His Name” (0:30), “We Are Getting a Dog Trainer” (1:33), “I Love Dog Training” (3:08), “First Time at the Beach” (0:55), “I’m Top Dog!” (0:51), and “You Take My Toy, I’ll Take Yours” (0:49).

Most of these offer additional shots of humans, and that makes it clear why they got cut. The filmmakers chose to focus on animal shenanigans at the expense of the human actors. Of course, we still see the pups and kitties in these clips; they simply add more interactions with people. The most interesting feature the dog trainer played by David Walliams; that character barely made a dent in the movie, so it’s good to see a little more of him here.

Cowabarka! runs five minutes, 17 seconds and offers notes from director Tom Dey, executive producer Derek Dauchy, head animal trainer Mike Alexander, “extreme surfer” Scott Chandler, American Humane Association animal safety representative Chris Obonsawin, and animal trainer Jim Dew. We learn about shooting the dog surfing sequences. Though pretty fluffy in tone, the program delivers a surprising amount of information and covers the subject well.

Finally, Canine Casting lasts two minutes, 49 seconds. Narrated by Dey, we see the casting sessions that got many of the film’s main animal actors. It’s not fascinating, but I’m always happy to see pets in action.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Marley and Me: The Terrible 2s, Tooth Fairy, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The disc also offers the trailer for Marmaduke and more promos under Sneak Peek. That area provides ads for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

While I can’t say that I like Marmaduke, I also can’t say that I hate it. The movie lacks any form of real cleverness or spark, but it avoids becoming a painful viewing experience, and that’s a minor miracle. The Blu-ray provides very good picture quality along with decent audio and a small collection of supplements. The movie offers mild family entertainment but nothing memorable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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