Verdict: Starts off strong, but runs out of steam mid-way through
As far as holiday entertainment goes Marmaduke isn't the pick of the bunch, but with plenty of slapstick physical comedy and fart jokes this harmless real-life doggie tale will appeal to kids aged 6-12.
Based on the Marmaduke slice-of-life comic strip, this is pretty much a high school movie featuring dogs instead of teenagers. Marmaduke (voice by Owen Wilson) is a loveable, awkward Great Dane who moves with his owners from Kansas to California.
The new dog at the local dog park, he quickly learns that like all high schools there are cliques, and rather than being in with the cool pedigrees he has to slum it with the other mutt misfits. Determined to be popular, Marmaduke risks losing his real friends and his family to woo Jezebel (voice by Fergie), the dog of his dreams.
All the voices do a great job of bringing these expressionless animals to life, and Owen Wilson's ability to fire off a quip keeps the energy and humour up.
The computer generated movements on the dogs' mouths work fine, but when they start dancing or doing tricks requiring more visual effects the camera starts moving quickly as well in an attempt to hide how clumsy and jerky these actions are.
A predictable storyline and cliche-ridden characters, the worst being the bland people, makes Marmaduke feel much longer than its 88-minute duration. Having said that, there are good laughs and plenty of feel-good family orientated messages which make it inoffensive fun for young pet lovers.
Cast: Owen Wilson, William H. Macy, Steve Coogan, Kiefer Sutherland
Director: Tom Dey
Running time: 88 mins
Rating: PG (Coarse Language.)