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Title: Marmaduke
Starring: Owen Wilson, George Lopez, Emma Stone, Lee Pace, William H. Macy, Kiefer Sutherland, Marlon Wayans
Directed by: Tom Dey
Written by: Tim Rasmussen (written by) & Vince Di Meglio (written by) | Brad Anderson (comic) & Phil Leeming (comic)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rated: PG
Runtime: 88 minutes
Release Date: 8/31/2010

Synopsis: ( 3.5 out of 5)
Video: (4 out of 5)
Audio: (3 out of 5)
Extras: (1 out of 5)
Overall: (3 out of 5)

Synopsis: :3.5stars:
It's time to stop pretending to be the top dog

Growing up is never easy for anyone. Whether it's the tough transition in to middle school or the tougher transition into the real world. No matter how much we all want to think "we are all winners," that's just never going to happen. There will always be people that are looked down upon, and those for whom everyone wishes they were or hope to become. In Marmaduke's (Wilson) case, this is fitting in with the other dogs. Standing feet above most average dogs and weighing over 200 pounds, blending in with the crowd is more than a stretch. Marmaduke is just like any dog, minus the fact that he is about 10 times other dogs' size, he likes to run, play, eat, sleep, and do everything he can to annoy his owners.

Living in Kansas and working as a pet food advertising director, Phil (Pace) and his family make it by just fine. But to Phil, that is not enough, he wants something more for his family, he wants to give them that big house and nice (wealthy) lifestyle. That opportunity arises when Phil is offered a job on the west coast in Orange County, California. So Marmaduke and his brother cat, Carlos (Lopez) have the opportunity to a fresh start at a new house, so they begin watching "The O.C." on television to get more acquainted to the lifestyle they are about to be introduced to and are immediately turned off by the show. When Phil is introduced to his new office out at the dog park he meets his boss Don (Macy) where he questions Don's thinking on working at the dog park when Don begins to act like a dog to Phil. Don reassures Phil that the people in the park are potential customers, so getting in touch with his inner dog helps him get to know who his customers are.

Marmaduke plays a very important role in Phil's professional career as Don makes it clear to Phil that he can tell a person by the way he treats his dog. Phil does not make a good first impression when he confesses that he does not know the other mix of Marmaduke's breed. The park is not only where Marmaduke is pressured to make Phil looked good, but he is also pressured to try and fit in with a new crowd, unfortunately being a couple of feet taller than most dogs and weighing twice as much as other dogs, Marmaduke realizes that he is in for the thrill of his life. Making friends does not come easy for Marmaduke, when he meets with a couple of dogs they introduce him to the cliques in the dog park; the jocks, cheerleaders, clowns, and the "in" crowd. The 'in' crowd is the group that every dog wants to be a part of, but they can't because it is for pedigrees only. Throughout his time in the dog park and dog parties that happen in the evening, Marmaduke makes it his goal to be a part of the "in" crowd even though he is a mutt. By the end of the movie, he realizes that even though he can never be a pedigree or part of the in crowd, he feels that all dogs are equal and they should learn to accept one another, no matter what kind of dog they are.

Rated PG for crude humor. There are no uses of cuss words in this movie, however there are words of name calling that parents of small children may want to watch out for. But nothing serious.

Video: :4stars:
I was very impressed with the video quality of Marmaduke. Keep in mind that I am reviewing a DVD (thanks to the economy, Blockbuster seems to only receive one or two blu-rays of new releases:huh: ). Overall, the colors were vibrant, and everything seem to almost pop out of the screen. So I'm sure the blu-ray would be far greater than the DVD.

Another aspect of the video that I found to be surprising was the CGI of the animals, whether it was when they were talking, or even dancing (about 30 or so are dancing at the end of the movie). It was obvious that the dogs were animated, but I thought for a lower budget film Marmaduke's animators did a great job.

Audio: :4stars:
The audio quality was also pretty top notch for a DVD. Again, remember that this movie is targeted toward families with younger children, so the sounds are all pretty animated. Honestly though, while voices were a little exaggerated, nothing says tough dog like the low voice of Kiefer Sutherland and Sam Elliott growling at you. But the music was fun and light hearted, dialogue was crisp and easy to understand. Nothing seemed to be over powering and all the sounds were well mixed together.

Extras: :1star:
Sneak Peeks - Trailers of upcoming movies


Overall: :3stars:
Marmaduke is one of those movies that are perfect for a family movie night. It's a goofy movie that has a great moral to it. When the family movies to California, it is Marmaduke's goal to be a part of the cool crowd, mostly so he can win over a female dog. When he finally gets to that stage where he is the top dog, because he threw his best friend Carlos under the bus to get there, his high life comes to a halt when the schemes that got him to the top are revealed. When he is outed as a fake, all the other dogs turn their backs on him, and he goes from the top dog to the wet mutt in a heartbeat. As the movie progresses, Marmaduke realizes that he doesn't need to be the top dog to fit in, or be part of the cool crowd. He has his best friends, and even though one of them is a cat and the others are mutts, it doesn't matter what matters to him is that he has friends who care for him and who he cares for, and nothing can change that.

There is also a coordinating story where Phil is doing everything he can to be the top dog for his company, even if that means putting away family time, or ignoring Marmaduke completely. And after some time of putting his family on the back burner, his dream job comes to a halt, just as Marmaduke's top dog title did. When Phil changes his strategy and puts his family first, he finds true success both at work as well as with his family.

I would recommend this movie to any family with children in it. It was fun and goofy, and was really easy to watch and keep up with the story. Whether you rent or buy this movie, I do not think you will be disappointed.

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