America's favorite Great Dane is more "O.C." than "Lassie."
  • Review Date: June 4, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There are several positive messages in the movie, chief among them the importance of staying true to yourself and not lying just to impress others. The meaning of unconditional friendship and work-life balance are explored in the relationships Marmaduke has with his original friends and his owners.

Positive role models

Of all the characters, Mazie is the best role model. She befriends Marmaduke instantly, doesn't discriminate against anyone, and is a loyal, smart, and loving friend. But some of the other dog characters bully, are prejudicial, and make poor choices (though they're clearly the "bad" dogs).

Violence & scariness

A mean Alpha Dog named Bosco, and a "notorious" rabid dog called the Chupadogra are menacing and growl. The dog park yells "fight, fight" when they think Marmaduke is going to challenge Bosco and vice-versa. Lots of Marmaduke-caused mishaps cause some property damage to his family's house. A broken water main puts Marmaduke, Mazie, and Phil in harm's way.

Sexy stuff

The dogs behave like teenagers in the way they flirt with each other and discuss the opposite sex (romance, dating, being with another dog). Marmaduke takes Jezebel on the "dream date" described to him by Mazie. Jezebel, a pedigree, talks about going for "the top dog." There are camera shots that make it look like the dogs are staring romantically at each other. 


The "pedigree crowd" throws around a lot of insults and taunts like "donkey," "horse," "losers," "stupid mutts," "freak," "gargantuan spas," and more. Also, one or two uses of "God" as an exclamation.


Brands featured include Apple's Macbook, the television show The O.C. and its theme song, and a Mini Cooper car.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There's no actual alcohol or drug content in the movie, obviously, but one of the dog cliques is the "mushroom heads," which is a pretty overt reference to pot smokers (they're even wearing tie-dyed outfits). Later in the movie, the alpha dog's behavior is excused because he's been drinking water from a drain pipe and dogs drinking from a toilet are encouraged by a crowd yelling "Chug! Chug! Chug!"

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Marmaduke is mostly inoffensive, unless your family detests potty humor, in which case this isn't the movie for you. The main issue with any talking-animal flick is the degree to which the animals are stand-ins for humans, and in this case, the animals are made to seem like high-schoolers with all their accompanying social and romantic drama. There's a lot of romantic pining and even doggie dating and flirting, which may go over the heads of kids too young to understand the nuances of romance. Some subtle drug references pop up that will also bypass the kids' radar. The language is limited to insults like "freak," "stupid," and "loser," and mimics the bullying and teasing you'd find in a movie about unpopular students. For such a short movie, there are several positive messages about the importance of honest, unconditional friendship and family versus work time -- not that they'll necessarily get noticed with all the dog-fart jokes in the way.

What's the story?

Marmaduke (Owen Wilson) lives happily in Kansas with the Winslows: marketing director Phil (Lee Pace), stay-at-home mom Debbie (Judy Greer), their teen, tween, and tot, plus their affable cat Carlos (George Lopez). When Phil accepts a lucrative job working for an organic dog-food company, the Winslows and their pets move to Orange County, California, where the center of canine activity (and the informal office of Phil's new boss, played by William H. Macy), is the Laguna Beach Dog Park. Marmaduke immediately falls in with a clique of sweet mixed-breed outcasts -- tomboy Mazie (Emma Stone), brainy Raisin (Steve Coogan), and neurotic Giuseppe (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). But like high school, the "rulers" of the park are the alpha male Bosco (Kiefer Sutherland), his beautiful girlfriend Jezebel (Stacy Ferguson), and their "pedigree crew." To win over Jezebel, Marmaduke makes a play for top dog, but alienates his true friends.

Is it any good?


Even though the Marmaduke movie trailer was criticized as one of the year's worst, there is definitely an audience for this movie -- pet-loving elementary schoolers who dig talking-animal flicks. If you are out of that narrow moviegoing niche, chances are high that you'll be unamused. No judgments here if it's too hot to stay home and this is the only PG-rated movie your family hasn't seen yet, but be prepared not so much to laugh but to marvel at Marmaduke's sheer size and the way the screenwriters turned dogs into teenagers with romantic and social drama to rival the very show that appears in the movie, The O.C..

Sure, there are a few moments when Marmaduke helps the family forge stronger relationships, especially the workaholic dad and his two kids, but the set-ups are thin (little Brian doesn't really like to play soccer! teen Barbara misses her friends in Kansas!), it's hard to care too much. Didn't Lassie and other cinematic canines literally save lives? The voice cast does its best with the hammy dialogue, and Wilson is clearly suited to playing dogs (or the people who love them), but comedians Coogan, Lopez, and Mintz-Plasse aren't given enough lines, because Marmaduke is so consumed with romancing Jezebel, throwing a party, and being top dog that the script gets too bogged down with the doggie soap opera to be all that funny or memorable.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's message about growing up "different" than the "cool" crowd (in this case, the top dog and his pedigree crew). How is the dog park like school? 

  • Marmaduke is often made fun of for his size. Kids: Does this happen to you or your friends? What's the movie's take on discrimination and bullying? 

  • Why are talking-animal movies so compelling to kids? Is it funny when animals have the same issues and thoughts as their human counterparts, like dating drama? Do you think this movie would still be for young kids if the characters were human instead of canine?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 4, 2010
DVD release date:August 31, 2010
Cast:Emma Stone, George Lopez, Lee Pace, Owen Wilson
Director:Tom Dey
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some rude humor and language

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Parent of a 10 and 12 year old Written bytwiceascutekids July 12, 2010

Perfect for pet-loving families (especially Great Dane owners)

I don't agree with the reviews that this is such a terrible movie. If you are an dog lover you will love the humor. If you own a Great Dane you will appreciate the humor even more! My kids, ages 10 and 12 loved this movie and we laughed all the way through. I do like that there is a positive message that family should matter more than success and money! When I go see a movie like this I don't expect it to be serious or realistic. If you are a pet-loving family I recommend you see this one. It's silly, cute and funny, like it is supposed to be.
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 8 years old July 13, 2010

Not Very Funny!

I kind of hated this movie. I expected it to be very funny like Beverly Hills Chihuahua, but it was not. I only laughed a little. I wasted my parents money seeing this in the theater. My mom is happy she dropped us off and didn't have to watch it too. I liked the buttery popcorn, but I still think this would be better to watch on DVD at home or not at all. It really wasn't funny.
Parent Written by4mykidos October 7, 2010

Funny Great Dane movie!

If you own a Great Dane you will definitely laugh at this movie!! Until you have owned a large dane you might not believe some of it is even possible. It is about a teenage dog so there are good and bad choices. The bad choices Marmaduke makes have consequences and he learns from them. There are a lot of positive messages concerning family, friends you choose, and peer pressure. There is some name calling between dogs, but it is just silly stuff like "loser, stupid mutt, freak, horse". In the end they all realize that their family and being truthful are what is most important. Overall it is a cute, goofy, fun, & lighthearted movie!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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