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MARMADUKE ($40) is a completely silly and slapstick happy kids movie based upon the popular and looking running comic strip by Brad Anderson. Considering that Marmaduke doesn’t speak in the strip and all the animals, including Marmaduke talk in the movie, with CGI lip movements nonetheless, I would say MARMADUKE has also drawn its influences from movies like CATS & DOGS and BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA. MARMADUKE isn’t a particularly original movie, but considering that its intended audience is fairly juvenile, I don’t think originality counts for much. All really you need are sight gags and canine flatulence jokes to score big with the target audience anyway. Heck, I’m not above laughing at some of that stuff myself… but a little more substance and originality would have gone a long way to making the film more appealing to an adult audience.

The premise of MARMADUKE finds family head Phil Winslow (Lee Pace) getting a great new job with the Bark Organic dog food company. Of course, the job entails moving the Kansas based Winslow clan, including a Great Dane named Marmaduke (voiced by Owen Wilson) and cat named Carlos (voiced by George Lopez) to Orange County California. While Phil deals with his demanding boss Don Twombly (William H. Macy), who wants to get his dog food products into every Petco across the country, Marmaduke tries to assimilate onto the high school-like social strata of the dog park. Marmaduke finds himself taken in by the un-cool kids AKA the mutts- Mazie (voiced by Emma Stone), Giuseppe (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Raisin (voiced by Steve Coogan). The cool kids AKA the pedigrees- rule the dog park, and are lead by the vicious Bosco (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland). Of course, Marmaduke gets on Bosco’s bad side when he shows an interest in Jezebel (voiced by Fergie), Bosco’s beautiful, but somewhat shallow girlfriend. The rest of the plot takes every predictable turn imaginable; with MARMADUKE coming to its family friendly, feel conclusion in under ninety minutes. The live action cast and vocal talent of MARMADUKE also includes Judy Greer, Sam Elliott, Marlon Wayans, Damon Wayans, Jr., Finley Jacobsen, Caroline Sunshine, Miliana Haines and Glenn McCuen.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made MARMADUKE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. No surprises here, this is a reasonably budgeted family movie with "A" production values, so the 1080p presentation delivers a glossy, highly attractive picture that is certainly to please. Almost always, the image is wonderfully sharp, clear and dimensional, not to mention offering a terrific level of fine detail. Sure, this doesn’t look like a hyper-realistic action movie, and there are some slight bits of softness that creep in, but for the most part the picture delivers the goods. Colors are vibrant and well saturated, while the flesh tones are totally appealing. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and contrast is smooth. Shadow detail is just fine for this type of undemanding material. The elements from which MARMADUKE has been mastered are free from flaws. There is a nice veneer of grain within the image, which gives the picture an organic quality. Considering the digital manipulation required to provide lip movements to the animals, I expected all of the film grain to have been obliterated in post-production. It’s a nice surprise that enough of it has been retained.

MARMADUKE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sound design is limited by the nature of the material. Almost all of MARMADUKE plays in the talky comedy mode, with the sound being localized front and center. There are some more active moments that provide better engagement of the outlying channels, but these too tend to be more front heavy than enveloping. The surrounds see the usual complement of ambience and fill, with occasional active effects. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is solid where the music is concerned, while the sound effects are relatively convincing. The bass channel provides good reinforcement for the music, as well as the occasional sound effect. Voices are cleanly rendered, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Featurettes and other programs include: Puppy Marmaduke And Kitty Carlos: Home Movies (3 minutes), Cowabarka! (5 minutes) and Canine Casting (3 minutes). Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel close out the standard extras. MARMADUKE is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray.

As I stated above, MARMADUKE is a completely silly and slapstick happy kids movie. It is an ideal movie for the youngsters, and anyone indulging their inner child. The Blu-ray looks great and sounds just fine.


Marmaduke [Blu-ray] (2010)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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