Owen Wilson has been cast to voice Marmaduke in Fox’s CGI/live-action movie adaptation of the comic, according to the Hollywood Reporter. (The dog doesn’t speak in the comic, but perhaps Wilson became an expert barker after working on Marley & Me and will just bow-wow his way through the film? One can hope….) THR says the film will see Marmaduke “navigate a volatile Mutts vs. Pedigrees turf war, woo the purebred of his dreams and overcome a fall from grace.” The star-studded cast also includes Judy Greer, Lee Pace, and William H. Macy as humans, and Fergie, Emma Stone, George Lopez, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Steve Coogan, Damon Wayans, and Marlon Wayans, who all lend their voices to characters.
A family-friendly movie about a dog with a recognizable cast may attract a decent audience to theaters on a three-day weekend — how many Beethoven movies did they make? — but I wonder just how they’ll do an entire movie based on this 55-year-old single-panel comic. The comic’s formula seems to be: Big dog + wacky shenanigans = modest smirk. Can that be stretched out to a feature film? Perhaps — especially if modest smirks is all it aims to achieve. I’m skeptical, though, of a project that gets its inspiration from Marmaduke (do you know anyone under age 70 who actually reads it?). Wilson may be the perfect choice to voice the giant, four-legged rascal, but Bill Murray also turned out to be an excellent Garfield, and that still couldn’t save that lifeless CGI/live-action movie (which somehow gave birth to a most unnecessary sequel).
Also, Owen, another dog movie? Marley & Me was fun, if a little trite, but another “fun” dog-centric movie sort of puts you in a box you might not want to be in. Branch out, voice a cat or a chimp or an animated race car, for pete’s sake.
Any PopWatchers stoked to see this one? What are some stars-voicing-animals movies that actually were successful? (I was pretty entranced by Michael J. Fox in Homeward Bound, back in the day.)
Photo Credit: Wilson: Chris Hatcher/PR Photos