Christian Movie Reviews - Family Friendly Entertainment

Marmaduke is a Barkin' Good Time for Kids Only

  • Christa Banister Contributing Writer
  • Updated Sep 03, 2010
<i>Marmaduke</i> is a Barkin' Good Time for Kids Only

DVD Release Date:  August 31, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  June 4, 2010
Rating:  PG-13 (for some rude humor and language)
Genre:  Family
Run Time:  87 min.
Director:  Tom Dey
Actors and Voices by:  Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, George Lopez, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Steve Coogan, Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson, Kiefer Sutherland, Lee Pace, Judy Greer, Marlon Wayans, Damon Wayans Jr., William H. Macy

After seeing Beverly Hills Chihuahua back in 2008, I was convinced I'd already seen the world's worst kids' movie involving talking dogs.

But as it turns out, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is downright genius (especially in the quippy humor department) compared to Marmaduke, a colossal waste of a decent cast that includes Owen Wilson (once again on the doggie beat), Kiefer Sutherland, Steve Coogan, the go-to scene-stealer Judy Greer and yes, even Fergie.

Truth be told, though, as much as I loathed every second of the insipid canine hijinks, the film's target audience, kids who ranged anywhere from 5 to 11, were absolutely lovin' every second and laughing for most of the duration—especially when Marmaduke had a bad case of gas (a joke that was repeated not once, not twice, but three times).

Aside from the easy scatological laughs, however, there are a couple of predictable but still family-friendly storylines running throughout. Ultimately comparing the hierarchy of the canine kingdom to the stereotypical high school cliques, Marmaduke (yes, that Marmaduke from the Sunday comics, now voiced by Wilson) doesn't really feel like he fits in anywhere. Coincidentally, that's a sentiment a few members of his human family feel as well as they're making a big move from Kansas to the O.C.

Determined to give his family the best life "they deserve," Mr. Winslow (Lee Pace) works for a pet food company and has just been promoted to Marketing Director of an upscale, organic pet food operation in sunny California. Without really consulting his family, he immediately accepts the position and tries his best to convince everyone that they'll love their new life near the beach in a big house with a pool, an ocean view and everything.

But as Mr. Winslow's demanding boss (William H. Macy) requires more and more of his time at the office, which happens to be a nearby dog park that's supposed to inspire creativity because it's not in the usual cubical culture, he's losing touch with his family.

Meanwhile, Marmaduke is just being a big, tempestuous dog, and in the process, almost ruins his owner's career prospects when he scares the big guns from Petco at a doggie surfing competition that was designed to win them all over for a future commercial campaign.

And if the constant scolding on the home front wasn't already bad enough for a misfit like Marmaduke, he's also having trouble with his doggie peers. Wanting desperately to be part of the coveted purebred group, fronted by Bosco who's voiced by none other than Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) himself, Marmaduke eventually abandons the mutts who stood by him when he was new in town after an opportunity to be in the "doggie cool club" comes about.

Filled with madcap action and a happy ending you'll see coming from a mile away (this ain't Old Yeller, after all), Marmaduke is a movie your kids will probably love, but you'll barely suffer through, thanks to a slew of corny jokes and lame pop culture references. But as far as family entertainment goes, it's not a bad option for the kiddos if they're bored with Shrek and can't wait another couple of weeks to see the far superior storytelling—and action— of Toy Story 3.


  • Drugs/Alcohol:  There's a scene with the "stoner" dogs, plus Marmaduke and Carlos are given a sedative in some meatballs so they'll sleep during a cross-country move.
  • Language/Profanity:  No actual profanity, just rude words like "butt," "sucks" and derogatory remarks like "loser" and "spaz." Plus, there's a lot of scatological humor, mostly involving dogs with excess gas.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None, but the Winslow's teenage daughter does wear a skimpy bikini at the beach. 
  • Violence:  Mostly shenanigans of a comedic canine nature like Marmaduke frequently knocking over his master. There's also tension between the requisite mean dog of the bunch, Bosco and Marmaduke.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.