Friday, September 3, 2010

'Marmaduke' DVD Review


Even when you're the biggest canine on the block, it doesn't always mean you're the top dog.

So goes the story of "Marmaduke," the amusing live-action movie based on Brad Anderson's popular comic strip that arrived on DVD ($29.98; Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) Aug. 31.

With the endearing Owen Wilson voicing the role as the titular Great Dane, Marmaduke and his family find out in short order what it's like to no longer be in Kansas anymore. Literally.

The movie kicks off with the Winslow family moving from a rural existence in Middle America to the relatively more hip environs of "The O.C." (aka Orange County, Calif.). Dad Phil (played by the affable Lee Pace) lands a lucrative marketing job for an organic dog food company (run by a persnickety dog lover played by William H. Macy) and wants to show the wife and kids "the good life."

And while the family is resistant to moving across the country, the lovable yet clumsy Marmaduke is ready and willing to follow the fam anywhere -- as long as not too many baths are involved.

This is where things get tricky.

Marmaduke's the new kid in town and has to learn his place in the neighborhood dog park. A big, bad bully (voiced with menace by Kiefer Sutherland) wants to keep ol' Marmaduke out of the pure-bred circle. That leaves Marmaduke hangin' with not only his feline friend Carlos (George Lopez) but also the outcasts -- aka mutts -- while still longing to be one of the "popular" canines.

It's through this effort of trying to fit in -- something Phil has trouble with himself -- that gives the movie its heart.

With familiar themes of being proud of who you are and listening to those who matter most even when it doesn't suit your plans, this movie is a good one for the family.

CC especially loved an early sequence when Marmaduke leaps out of the bathtub, with Phil hanging on by his tail.

The DVD extras were cute, particularly the "Cowabarka! Surfing Dogs" clip -- which is a big set piece in the movie. There was also one deleted scene that would've worked well in the film -- a moment when we learn the origin of Marmaduke's name.

("Marmaduke" images courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)

***

A few L.A. moms, dog owners and I got to meet "George," the Great Dane that plays Marmaduke in the movie, at Three Dog Bakery in the original Farmers Market earlier this week.

The bakery offers all-natural, delicious-looking treats to canines and was the perfect place to meet the adorable and friendly George. They even served up (non-dairy) doggie "ice cream" for the occasion.

Since CC was in preschool at the time, I snapped pics of my friends who were there, including Bernadette and her daughter (above). If CC had been there, though, I'm sure she would have tried to ride him.

Not sure how well that would've gone over.

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