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Stars: Lee Pace, Judy Greer, William H Macy. Voices: Owen Wilson, Fergie, Kiefer Sutherland, Steve Coogan, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Emma Stone

Director: Tom Dey

Hit-and-miss in much the same way as the Garfield films, this live-action, talking-animal version of a syndicated comic strip about a seriously undisciplined Great Dane has some wonderful special effects but a pretty lame script.

From the moment Marmaduke's owner (Pace) is dragged out of bed in their new house by the flatulent mutt and says 'Same dog, different floor', when, to get the laugh, he should be saying 'Different floor, same dog', you know there are no Pulitzer Prize-winners writing here.

Story: Marmaduke (voiced by Wilson) moves from Kansas to California, where he hopes for a new leash of life (one of the better lines), but falls foul of Bosco (Sutherland), slavering king of the local dog park, after making eyes at Bosco's collie girlfriend (Fergie). Trying to be top dog, Marmaduke, left in the house while the family weekend on boss Macy's boat, throws a party that gets way out of hand, gets locked out of the house for his sins and runs away.

Despite an excess of toilet jokes, doggy-style, the film has one or two great scenes, including Marmaduke's midnight conversation with Chupadogra (gravelly Sam Elliott), once legendary king of the hill but now a fugitive from the pound; the Great Dane surfing; and a how-did-they-do-that scene in which Marmaduke rescues his friend Mazie (Stone) in a storm drain.

Best line goes to Mintz-Plasse as Giuseppe. As the heavens open, he exclaims: 'It's raining cats and us!' Britain's David Walliams is (barely) in this as a dog trainer, whose one scene sees him pushed in the pool by Marmaduke.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: 20th Century-Fox. Colour by deluxe.
88 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 14 Aug 2010