Those who come to “Marmaduke” eager for the humor that comes from the intestinal distress of others don’t have to wait too long. The first of many instances of doggy-doo jokes comes about three minutes into the film.
Marmaduke has been running in the comic section for more than half a century. It has just one panel and just one joke: Marmaduke is a very, very big dog who brings chaos to those who try to impose order in the world.
In this movie adaptation, Marmaduke and his family move to California and Marmaduke has to learn how to make new friends over at the dog park, which like middle school — very cliquey. He is quickly befriended by the independent-minded Mazie (voice of Emma Stone) but wants very much to be accepted by the pedigreed pooches, led by alpha dog Bosco (voice of Keifer Sutherland) and his lovely girlfriend Jezebel (voice of Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas). He treats his friends badly to become part of the cool group and learns that he has made a very bad mistake. Meanwhile, he is also getting in trouble at home with his human family: the always-appealing Lee Pace (“Pushing Daisies”) as an affectionate but distracted father and should-be-a-leading-lady Judy Greer. Released from an endless series of quippy best friend roles in an endless stream of chick flicks — she has friended more Jennifers and Jessicas on screen than can be found in all of Facebook — it is especially disappointing that she has an even smaller role here. She seems oddly passive, barely noticing what is going on in her home other than punishing her husband for punishing Marmaduke.
Not that kids who see this movie will care at all about that. They want to see some unbridled id creating chaos. They want to see cute dogs making big messes and still being loved, some dog-doo jokes and a silly dance. They want to see a daddy learning a lesson about how it is more important to listen to your kids than to work. They will enjoy all of these things, but for the adults who accompany them it will be a long 87 minutes.