Marmaduke * *
(G, general release)
I thought Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore was poor, but it's the Battleship Potemkin of talking pet pictures compared to this misguided effort.
Based on a long-running newspaper comic strip created by Brad Anderson, Marmaduke follows the adventures of a Great Dane who goes by that name and is voiced by Owen Wilson.
The deal is this: Marmaduke can talk but his owners can't understand him, but he can understand them and unfortunately we can understand him. Unfortunately because the hound is a veritable windbag who doesn't stop bitching and moaning from start to finish.
Marmaduke leads a carefree, happy existence with his owners Phil and Sarah and their kids Barbara and Brian, devoting most of his time to eating, digging up the garden and (his favourite) passing wind. But his world falls asunder when Phil announces that they're moving from Kansas to Orange County, California.
Marmaduke and his buddy, Carlos the talking Siamese cat, are not amused. But when Marmaduke gets there he begins to think his new home is not too bad.
When Phil takes him to a dog park, he meets a friendly Australian Shepherd called Mazie (voiced by Emma Stone), and falls in love with a Rough Collie called Jezebel (Fergie). But the park is run by an overbearing Beauceron (a bit like a Doberman) called Bosco (Kiefer Sutherland), who perceives Marmaduke as a threat. And in his attempts to impress the ladies, Marmaduke will land himself and his family in big trouble.
Intended to be lovable, Marmaduke is a bit of a pain in the arse, and if a dog caused as much havoc as this in a real family he'd have long since been given a one-way ticket to the vet.
As for jokes, the film's wittiest moment comes when Marmaduke farts on his owners' bed and then looks at them for approval. We've all been there.