In recent years, there has been some speculation amongst film scholars as to whether or not the actual physical presence of alleged actor Owen Wilson is enough to turn a film into a great big steaming pile of dog shit. And, while his latest starring effort, Marmaduke — another in a line of big-screen adaptations of long-running comic strips that nobody asked for — is just as great and big of steaming pile of dog shit that only a canine like Marmaduke could possibly muster, it still remains to be proved whether or not Owen Wilson’s performance in this kiddie flick (he provides the voice for Marmaduke — a character that never talked at all in the comic stripp — via his patented droning) is indeed what makes this such a stinker.
Let’s face it: this is a kiddie flick, after all. Anybody over the age of 27 possessing an IQ above, say, room temperature, is bound to be offended by it.
As you may have deduced, I am not a big fan of kiddie films in general (to say nothing of Owen Wilson vehicles), and Marmaduke is certainly no exception. It’s a tepid, poorly-acted, utter brain-killer of a feature; the cinematic equivalent of pork tartar, wherein the human actors (Lee Pace, Judy Greer, William H. Macy, et al) act like they recently received a hearty endorsement from the Act Stupid Foundation to give the most lymphatic performances of their careers (although this could very well be Pace’s most believable performance to date, but that‘s the subject of another debate between film scholars).
Of course, in a film like this, the real actors are the animals. The critter side of the cast mostly consists of canines (which I am also not overly fond of, but that’s irrelevant), with one or two cats (one of whom is voiced by George Lopez — a cunning move on behalf of the studio to get the Latino children into the theaters) thrown into the fray so no one will shout “You racist bastards!” (just like the voice casting of Lopez and two of the sixteen-hundred Wayans Brothers). And not only do the four-legged performers own the show here, but they also steal it: out-acting their human cohorts left and right (British comedian David Walliams’ moments are shown via a montage segment, thus suggesting he was adding some sort of life to the film and had to be stopped in post-production) — which should be fully expected in a film that is specifically focused on animals to begin with…which begs the question, “Should I be so harsh on the film?”