Marmaduke (voiced by Owen Wilson), with his best pal Carlos the cat (voiced by George Lopez), moves from Kansas to California in this redemption tale gone wrong. (Twentieth Century Fox)
T rue, it's a kid's movie about a big talking canine, and we're not looking for a great deal of sophistication here. From the get-go it's understood that this is going to be about pratfalls and things breaking and warm-hearted sloppy licking sessions.
But does the family cat have to have a Mexican accent, especially since the cat is from Kansas?
Is this supposed to imply that Mexican accents are inherently funny? Is that joke targeted at the Arizona demographic specifically or is everybody supposed to get it?
And does Marmaduke have to get on a surf board? Really?
More importantly, does the film have to follow the painfully clichéd disgrace-followed-by-redemption storyline? Don't children deserve the same sort of originality, wit, emotional truth and intelligence found in most adult films?
Oh, that's right. Most adult films don't have those things either.
Anyway, Marmaduke (voiced by an apparently shameless Owen Wilson) is a Great Dane living in Kansas when his clan decides to move to California so Dad (Lee Pace) can sell organic dog food.
Marmaduke wins over the crowd at the local dog park, eventually becoming the top dog in town but losing his soul in the process.
Then he realizes the error of his ways and recants after saving the pooch of his dreams (voiced by Emma Stone).
Along the way there are dog parties and dog dancing and dog surfing and dog peeing and dog shivering and dog digging, and it would all be a lot of doggone fun if it weren't so doggone dumb.
Kids deserve better. Heck, dogs deserve better.