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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

Marmaduke: Review

Marmaduke Synopsis: A legendary dog trainer (Brian Hull) believes he can transform Marmaduke (Pete Davidson) from an undisciplined, but lovable dog, into the first Great Dane to win the World Dog Championship.

Netflix may represent the first streaming empire, but it’s a service beginning to reach its creative and financial nadir. News of lost subscribers comes as new streamers pave their pathway in the market. Honestly, most of these platforms put out a superior product – often building libraries of beloved classics and vibrant original offerings that possess their own distinctive allure.

As competition grows, Netflix finds itself treading water as they roll out a blend of mediocre franchise-starters (The Adam Project) and failed Oscar bait (Don’t Look Up). All of the negative headlines culminate with the unceremonious release of another Marmaduke adaptation. What appears as a harmless animated offering mutates into a shocking low-point for the storied streamer.

It’s hard to go lower than the uninspired 2010 Marmaduke, yet somehow the creative team creates an even less competent feature here. Crafted on a shoestring budget in 2017, Marmaduke looks like a drug-fueled nightmare – an almost indescribable blend of contorted movements and poorly implemented techniques. None of the visuals present the textured details and imaginative visuals of its big and small screen peers. I almost recommend readers watch 5 or 10 minutes just to experience the sheer bewilderment radiating from every frame. I can’t imagine many lasting longer than that.

The plotting is equally haphazard. Marmaduke’s gangly presence finds himself stumbling into a dog contest, one where he predictable endures a series of charmless pratfalls as a substitute for an actual story. Playing out like a loosely formed sketch, Marmaduke barely operates like a movie. Rarely do scenes draw a real impression as the creative team repeatedly swings and miss at drawing interest. Even for a kid-centric vehicle, the script is careless and laughably ill-conceived.

Not even a skilled cast of voice actors breathe life into the proceedings. Star Pete Davidson radiates paycheck mode ambivalence in his flat interpretation of the titular dog. The actor’s laidback charisma is noticeably vacant as he self-awarely mugs his way through the dreadful material (To be honest, I don’t hate cashing an easy check on Pete’s part). David Koechner and Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons also find themselves bizarrely involved in roles that exist far beneath their talents.

It would be unfair to completely kill Netflix here, this is a film they acquired from the cinematic scrapheap. Still, it’s disappointing that the streamer distributes below-average products like Marmaduke over supporting their own fruitful projects (Netflix canceled several shows unceremoniously this year).


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