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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 03/12/2009

Marmaduke the Movie? We've Got a Few Stray Ideas

By Michael Cavna

Word comes this week from Animation Magazine and the Hollywood Reporter that "Marmaduke" -- yes, the single-panel high-jinks of a 55-year-old gallumphing Great Dane (that's 385 in dog years) -- is headed to the big screen.

To which we've heard a few cartooning colleagues reply: "Really??"

Part of the surprise is that 55-year-old comic strips (let alone 385-year-old hounds) rarely generate their first feature film at that professionally advanced age. Or, to put it in show-biz terms: "Marm, babe -- listen up. Luv ya, babe, but Hollywood thinks you peaked in 1978. You've got less buzz than Barney Google."

So we come today not to kick Marmaduke. (Heaven bless anyone who can find steady work these days.) No, we're here to offer him a little career advice, lest his film stink more mightily than even the first "Garfield." So to "Marmaduke" and its tabbed "helmer" Tom Dey, Comic Riffs generously offers some script "concepts":

1. "Marmaduke Minus Marmaduke": Nothing would have a better shot at Sundance and a little insta-indie cred than an existential film that doesn't show the titular Marmaduke. There stand Dottie and Phil Winslow, with no lumbering hound to explain away their beleaguered, hollow-eyed stares.

2. "So I Married a Canine Psycho": Brad Anderson goes Hitchcock. Marmaduke's lovably clumsy antics are all a cover for his more devious, devilish schemes to vex the Family Winslow. (Voice of Marmaduke: Steve Buscemi.)

3. "National Treasure 4: Marmaduke's Got the Map": Yes, this would surely stink aesthetically -- but seeing an aging Nick Cage chase a clodhopping CGI dog through greenscreened sites abroad could be so bad, it would be Netflix-worthy. (Voice of Marmaduke: Jack Black.)

4. "Weekend at Marmaduke's": The original Marmaduke dog, long ago shipped to a taxidermist, is the center of wacky shenanigans. (Cheesy tagline: "This dog does more than PLAY dead!")

5. "Slumdog Marmaduke": Muscle tissue atrophied from a half-century of suburban lounging, Marmaduke -- in a madcap mix-up -- is shipped to Mumbai, where his clumsy misadventures eventually captivate a nation. (Voice of Marmaduke: Cate Blanchett doing an uncanny man's voice; she wins the Oscar.)

Do you have ideas/projects/treatments for the most troublesome 'Dane this side of Hamlet? I'm all (flappy) ears.

SIDE NOTE: If you haven't before: Check out blogger "Joe Mathlete", who devotes his creative energies to "explaining" (re: obsessively mocking) "Marmaduke." Quick laffs to be had.

By Michael Cavna  | March 12, 2009; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  The Riffs  
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Been there, done that, except they used a St. Bernard and called the franchise Beethoven.

Personally, I'd rather see a Peabody and Sherman movie, with Kelsey Grammar as the voice of Mr. Peabody.

Posted by: drazen1 | March 12, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Mamaduke VS Scooby Doo, Death Match: High Noon?

Guest starring Astro! With Clive Owen, Jack Black, Lindsay Lohan, and special guest Fantasia!

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 12, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I see this as a "Cujo" spin-off. "Return of the Son of the Hound from Hell, Part 2" or some such. A Great Dane terrorizes his owners, his neighborhood, and all strangers on the street. Don't ask what's being buried in the back yard. Woe be to anyone within a mile of the 'Duke who still carries the scent of last night's pork chop dinner. Starring Ernest Borgnine as a sack of Soylent Puppychow.

Posted by: seismic-2 | March 12, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

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