The ability of kids 8 and older to enjoy “Marmaduke” (based on the comic strip) will depend in part on how they react to seeing real-life dogs (and a kitty) move their lips when they “talk” to one another.
Some may find it a tad creepy. Others will accept the idea and get right into the lighthearted canine hijinks.
“Marmaduke” puts the rambunctious Great Dane (voice of Owen Wilson) in Orange County, Calif., where his owner Phil (Lee Pace) has moved the family so he can become marketing director at an upscale dog food company. But Marmaduke isn’t prepared for the dog park, which is just like high school. Marmaduke is befriended by Mazie (voice of Emma Stone), an Australian Shepherd, and her posse of adorable mixed-breed outcasts, but he gets a crush on Jezebel (Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas), a gorgeous collie who hangs with Bosco (Kiefer Sutherland) the bully. Trying to get in with the in-crowd gets Marmaduke into a lot of trouble and he nearly loses his way.
The bottom line: Although the cast features a lot of lovable canines and nonthreatening humans, there are moments that could scare under-8s. Marmaduke and Mazie are nearly carried off by a deluge of water in a storm sewer. At other times the dogs are put in threatening confrontations with one another, though none of them really does more than growl threateningly. There are no bites or injuries, except when Marmaduke’s cat buddy Carlos (George Lopez) gets swung around by the tail and loses some fur. There is much animal toilet humor.
Jane Horwitz, Washington Post