Not a howler, but certainly not man's best friend
Any debate around whether dogs really are man's best friend is surely going to see actor Owen Wilson batting on behalf of the bowwows.
Pooch power saw him hit the multiplex motherlode with Marley & Me, after the comedy car crash that was Drillbit Taylor delivered a serious setback to his leading-man credibility, while his contribution to the family friendly Marmaduke again sees him going to the dogs as it were, in an attempt at further career consolidation.
In this Tom Dey-directed feature Marmaduke (voiced by Wilson) is a lip-synching 200-pound Great Dane forced into a reluctant relocation after the Winslow family who own him choose to move from Kansas to California.
A job opportunity with an organic pet food company run by William H Macy constitutes a shot at the big time for marketing executive dad (Lee Pace) but the hoped for "new leash of life" fails to materialise for Marmaduke.
He has the family pet cat Carlos (George Lopez) for company but problems at the local "Bark Park" result in a chain of events that sees Marmaduke becoming the mutt -- sorry, butt -- of all the jokes as he falls foul of the demarcation lines operated by top dog Bosco (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland). Naturally, it isn't long before the fur starts to fly.
Wilson brings decent comic verve to his voice work and there are a couple of good one-liners, but the reality is that there are only so many talking animals a grown-up audience can be expected to endure before the tolerable becomes tedious.
Marmaduke clocks in at a snappy 88 minutes, but feels longer. The good news is that it'll be a different story for the tots. Production values cannot be faulted and there are enough dancing dogs, surfer mutts and displays of four-legged flatulence on show to ensure Marmaduke scores a direct hit with its target kiddy demographic.
Marmaduke opens August 18
Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue
The title is not misleading, TinkerBell and the Great Fairy Rescue is a cutesy and sweet animated film about the fairy made famous as an accomplice of Peter Pan.
The third in a series of prequels outlining the pre-Peter days of young Tink (Mae Whitman) here she has her first brush with humans when her curiosity leads her to follow a new-fangled motor car.
In this car are Lizzy (Lauren Mote) and her dad (Michael Sheen) who have come to holiday in the country. The dad (Michael Sheen) will concentrate on his science and facts while neglected but happy Lizzy will indulge her penchant for fairies.
As per Disney rules, dreams really can come true and Lizzy's do when she accidentally stumbles upon TinkerBell.
Fairy dust and dreams coincide, Lizzy can fly, her father the scientist puts ambition before kindness and the fairies must gather together to keep their existence a secret. "Enchanting" and "dvd sales" were most likely the mission statement for Bradley Raymond's third dose of TinkerBell and that's what this is. Younger children will enjoy it openly, slightly older ones will enjoy it secretly.
There is a certain oddness in that the humans are terribly British, the fairies funky American -- they also look vaguely like Bratz which grates against the Edwardian humans -- but it's easy to follow and I suspect the average five year old won't care too much.
Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue is showing now