I have seen so many charges of raped childhood from movie fans over the past few years that it took be my surprise today that few people seem to have issues with the idea that the title character will be talking in Fox’s Marmaduke movie. I guess nobody really cares about Marmaduke the way they care about Transformers or Alvin and the Chipmunks. This same kind of indifference will presumably come when Hollywood makes a Family Circus movie in which Dolly is a hot teen and Kittycat is CG and voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Instead, everyone is more concerned about Owen Wilson’s career. But aside from possibly being replaced by Jack Nicholson in his usual roles, Wilson doing the voice of a pet in a broad cartoon adaptation only places him somewhere between nobody actor Neil Fanning and still-beloved legend Bill Murray. Maybe, as Stacey already worried on this site, the role could make Wilson suicidal again, but it otherwise it shouldn’t hurt his job prospects.
Meanwhile, in somewhat related news, people are whining about their raped childhoods with news of a CG Berenstain Bears movie. I’d normally have been in the corner with them, but after Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, I can’t cry wolf anymore. Before seeing that shockingly witty adaptation of my favorite children’s book, I thought my childhood had been gang raped. But it turned out it just had a stick up its ass. Anyway, as long as it was inevitable that a Berenstain Bears movie would be made, I’d rather it feature CG characters than look like Disney’s Country Bears film.
Here’s what the film blogs were saying about Wilson cast as Marmaduke:
“I wonder why Wilson would take this on, and possibly label himself as the dog guy […] Yeah, sure, actors sometimes need money and take on things for the paycheck, but this just takes it to a whole new level. And does Wilson need the cash? Between Marley and the Smithsonian, and some Fockers on the way, it’s not like the dude is in a drought.”
“There’s no question that this is a gig that probably should be below Wilson, and might seem to indicate that he’s heading toward the same direct-to-video doldrums that his brother Luke is now in. But hey, maybe they offered him a ton of money because they wanted to reinforce a strong connection with Marley and Me. Still, did he learn nothing from Bill Murray’s deathbed confession in Zombieland?”
“Counting off from the last sequel, it only took the Garfield franchise 3 years to become a fucking joke*. Nobody learns any lessons in Hollywood though, and now Owen Wilson will have an animal-protagonist franchise of his own to regret in a few years.”
“Fine, it’s a kids movie and every actor is entitled to bring joy to brats. Hell, Bill Murray did Garfield, and no one batted an eyelash and yes, that’s fine. But following-up, the vanilla, puppy-dog movie (Marley & Me) with Night at the Museum 2 and now this? Wilson sadly, feels like he’s tapped out his abilities onscreen. He essentially plays the same character over and over again.”
“Owen probably should have talked to Bill Murray about Garfield before committing to this. Doing a voice in a Pixar movie like Cars is one thing. This however, has epic fail written all over it.”
“Wilson actually bears a slight resemblance to the mischievous dog, but that certainly doesn’t soothe my soul about this project existing. Despite how perfect Bill Murray was for Garfield, that movie still ended up being a huge mess (and don’t forget he made two of them!).”
“Wait a second. Steve Coogan [is in this, too]? As in the Steve Coogan who got Owen Wilson addicted to the heroin that ultimately led to his unfortunate suicide attempt? PERFECT. This is going to be hilarious and charming! “Marmaduke, stop nodding in my chair.” “Marmaduke is digging a black hole of hopeless despair in my flowerbed again.” “Oh boy, here comes the dog catcher. It looks like they picked up Marmaduke in a pool of his own blood and vomit again.”
And here’s what the blogs have to say about the Berenstains coming to the big screen:
“If you were among those viewers displeased with Spike Jonze’s smart, brooding and wholly original interpretation of Where the Wild Things Are, then Shawn Levy has announced just the film for you.”
“Honestly, as someone who is increasingly maddened by Hollywood snatching up all my favorite TV shows and books and movies from my childhood and giving them a contemporary update, I think Levy’s got a phenomenal grasp on how to approach the books as well as the right comedic tone to properly bring the old-fashioned stories to life in contemporary society.”
“While many redos get under my skin, I’d love a new addition to the Berenstain legacy — but like this? When did they become outcasts? They’re a friggin’ metaphor for human, everyday families. The whole point of the series was to mimick everyday lives and share familial lessons. The Messy Room is the reason I’m always organizing things. I read about their Visit to the Dentist when it was time to have the teeth looked at, or get healthy when there was Too Much Junk Food, rethink lying with The Truth, or reel back on the boob tube when there was Too Much TV. And in between these lessons, I memorized The Spooky Old Tree and would recite it to myself every night before bed.”
“[Shawn Levy] goes and compares the ideal version of the movie to Elf, which might be a fair comparison except that Elf was wonderful by virtue of being an original story, and this is just an attempt to cash in on a perfectly good set of books beloved by generations of first-graders. Some things just aren’t meant to be enjoyed by a broad family audience. Someone please stop this before we have another Alvin and the Chipmunks situation on our hands.”
“How is this going to work like Elf? The Berenstain Bears are fucking bears. Papa Bear walks out of the house, someone is eventually going to say, “Holy shit, that’s a bipedal bear with a hairdo dressed like Bob Vila! Call the police!” Is this film going to take place in some bizarre otherverse wherein human-like bears are acceptable but naïve bears that strictly obey a ’50s family structure and ethics code with strict gender roles are weird?”
“So basically it’s The Brady Bunch Movie but with a bear-people family substituted for the 1970s-people family. Brother and Sister Bear go to high school, oblivious to the fact that they’re bears. Ma and Pa bear go to work, oblivious to the fact that they’re bears. The climactic event is a school talent show where the bears triumph (despite…or maybe because of being bears) and everyone learns a lesson. About bears. This movie writes itself—which is good because they haven’t hired a writer yet.”
“The books are basically self-contained life-lessons without much in the way of antagonists or continuity, so apparently Levy’s film will make use of “kiddie franchise adaptation plot #6:” Transporting the characters to “the real world” to interact with incredulous humans. Because that was such a good idea in “Fat Albert.” I eagerly await seeing which popular youth sport Brother Bear will show hitherto unheard of proficiency at, what sort of “wacky” modern clothes Sister Bear will wind up in during the innevitable makeover-with-new-friends scene, and finding out which big chain store will plunk down the product-placement dollars for the honor of having Mama and Papa get lost in - amazed at all the crazy technology and gadgets. I think I remember that Papa was supposed to be a lumberjack, so hopefull there’s a scene where he gets his hand on a chainsaw. (You can have that one for free, Shawn.)”