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Feature FilmIdeas/Commentary

Quote of the Week


“If there exists a finer metaphor for the creative bankruptcy of the Hollywood film system than a movie based on a half-century old comic strip that has been recycling the same five gags since blacks and whites had separate drinking fountains, I cannot imagine it.”
Joe Mathlete, creator of the blog Marmaduke Explained

  • I haven’t seen the movie – but a neighbor and her 2 small children (ages 5 and 9) saw it this weekend and absolutely LOVED it.

    Then again, they ARE the intended audience. Go figure.

  • I would have thought jerry bruckheimer’s re-imagining mickey mouse’s sorcerer’s apprentice as a heavy metal nicholas cage vehicle would be a “finer metaphor”.

  • Steve Menke

    “Marmaduke” couldn’t resist referencing the movie in this week’s Sunday strip. Have to admit he looks far better in CGI than in one of the sloppiest comic strips ever.

    Want EXTREME creative bankruptcy? It’s 80s nostalgia weekend next up, between “The A Team” and “The Karate Kid.”

  • Referencing my earlier comment, if anyone on this board HAD liked Marmaduke, I’d have had some serious concerns about it.

    “WE” are not the audience for that kind of movie. “WE” are not supposed to like it.

    And by ‘that kind of movie’, I mean childish, sit in the dark, eat your popcorn and laugh at the jokes – kind of movie. It was made to appeal to a specific primary-school audience. WE are not that audience. get over it.

  • purin

    But WE are probably the only people who recognize the name “Marmaduke” at all!

  • Kate

    Did you see this article?

    “My taste tends to be pretty much the taste of the public,” Mr. Davis said. “I don’t really design movies to be commercial. I just make movies I want to see.”

    “Cinema snobs may roll their eyes, but from way back in film history, talking animals have been a very good business bet,” said Jeanine Basinger, the chairwoman of the film studies department at Wesleyan University. As an example, Ms. Basinger gave Francis the Talking Mule, which starred in seven Universal Pictures comedies in the 1950s.

  • Cyle

    @Steve Schnier
    Well the point here isn’t really whether it’s enjoyable or not. The topic is creative bankruptcy and how writers in Hollywood can’t seem to come up with many new ideas lately. I think the main issue here is that studios are finding something people enjoyed a long time ago and repackaging it to deliver it to a new audience to avoid making something new. Of course it’s certainly worse when the final product sucks.

    I do have a problem with the “if it works for the intended audience” argument when it comes to children’s films though because it only makes sense from a business perspective, not a creative one. What good is art that doesn’t last? Making something low quality just to profit in the short term seems shady to me. It’s disappointing when you revisit something you liked as a kid only to realize it’s trash. Some of my favorite films are movies I loved as a kid but appreciate even more now that I’m an adult.

    (Sorry for getting off topic.)

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Much of what Cyle says still seems very topical to me anyway, and also the reason I hardly ever think to going to movies anymore given the desires to put out films like this than for something original.

  • @ Cyle

    And what if the people making the project find it stimulating and creative? Who are you to judge what is creatively bankrupt and what is not?

    Referring to the link posted by Kate – Producer John Davis says, “I just make movies I want to see.”

    Furthermore, “Mr. Davis said he would move away from animal pictures — he was also behind the “Dr. Dolittle” series starring Eddie Murphy — as his three children get older. Now in their early teens, they have been motivation.”

    I was fortunate to produce The Magic School Bus when my kids were the appropriate age for that show. It was a great experience for both of us. Now that they’re older, I work on more mature projects because their and my interests have matured.

    So who’s to say that John Davis is wrong – his audience (and its a sizable one) doesn’t think so.

    As far as your comment, “writers in Hollywood can’t seem to come up with many new ideas” – Bs. There are lots of great ideas. Before you start slagging the writers, or producers, or whoever – where’s yours? Seriously – show us that you can do something better.

  • Keith

    purin said:
    “But WE are probably the only people who recognize the name “Marmaduke” at all!”

    Why? We recognize it because we saw it in the comic pages. I imagine kids STILL look at the comic pages today. And Marmaduke’s still there.

    I’m looking forward to the coming weekend’s creative bankruptcy, partly. The A-Team looks like a dumb, fun time at the movies. I can’t get past “The Karate Kid” having nothing to do with ‘karate’. It’s a kung-fu movie. It’s as if they made Marmaduke a Saint Bernard. Then again, maybe they would have if not for the Beethoven films.

  • Donald C.

    Marmaduke doesn’t even appear in my newspapers anymore.

  • Caresse

    I really disliked the Marmaduke comic strip because it was really sloppy but I have to admit the sloppiness of the line definitely conveyed the feeling that Marmaduke is this big, clumsy, drooling mess.

    I’m not going to see this movie because it just doesn’t interest me. Maybe when it’s on rotation on cable and I’m hungover on my couch I’ll give it a try.

    But on the subject of Hollywood re-packaging ideas to sell to a new audience: I’m much more conflicted. On the one hand, I agree with the majority of you that it’s evidence of that the projects making it through the channels and getting green-lit are not the best of what’s truly out there in the world. Unfortunately, there’s more to getting your project out there than just having a good idea, or even being totally skilled. Instead it’s often about connections and money.

    That being said, though it pains me whenever I hear some young, ignorant kid refer to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” as “that Puffy Daddy song” shouldn’t we be happy that ideas we grew up on are being translated to a language the youth can understand? I can’t stand Rihana, but that “Tainted Love” is earning royalties makes me feel better about her using the Soft Cell classic – and who knows, maybe some curious young lad with the smarts to Google it will discover that it’s Soft Cell he likes and he picks up the guitar and ends up becoming a rock star all because he heard the chorus of this song from the 80s re-exposed to the masses in his youth.

    Maybe there will be some children who dislike the Marmaduke movie for the same reason some of us disliked the comic strip and then we can all bond on our mutual dislike of this rather flat character.

  • Andy

    “Marmaduke” can be funny if you read them as if (as the “Comics Curmudgeon” suggests) his owner is Hitler, and he is being eternally punished for his crimes against humanity. If the filmmakers had taken that approach, I would definitely see this movie.

  • Cyle


    I just want to clarify that my comments were in response to the idea of specifically making something of lesser quality just because it’s for kids. If Jim Davis finds these films enjoyable even as an adult, then what I said doesn’t necessarily apply to him. I just dislike the excuse that if kids like it now, there’s no reason to criticize it. In this case, the film just isn’t my taste. It’s funny that you’d bring up the Magic School Bus because it’s something I loved when I was young, and I can still appreciate the creativity and imagination behind it today.

    P.S. I also dislike the “If you can do better, show me” defense, but I would love to make films and hope to make a few of my own some day. Unfortunately I’m not in the film business nor am I currently studying for it, but I do have a few ideas that I’d love to develop if given the chance.

  • MadRat

    As Steve Schnier said, “As far as your comment, ‘writers in Hollywood can’t seem to come up with many new ideas’ – Bs. There are lots of great ideas.” I have to agree. When they say, “Everyone in Hollywood has a script” they’re not kidding; from the Pulitzer Prize winner who lives in Beverly Hills to the cashier at the gas station in South Central. If nothing else there are hundreds of amazing novels in every genera that could be adapted into huge hits.

    It’s the same problem we’ve had for the past 10 years: economic cowardice. When it costs ten MILLION dollars to make a low budget film, investors don’t want to take chances. Trouble is humans crave variety. It’s like if there was a city were every restaurant was either McDonald’s or Burger King, based on the idea that these were the two most popular restaurants. They’d all go out of business when people got tired of eating the same food all the time.

    (By the way, thank you for The Magic School Bus! It taught me a lot when I was younger.)

  • Mike Tiefenbacher

    Brad Anderson, creator of, and the guy who’s been writing and drawing MARMADUKE continuously since 1954 (56 years = 29,400+ strips–a bit of repetition is to be expected!), is 86 years old. Yes, his line is loose, but this is the inevitability of age. But I’m delighted that he’s alive to see his creation make it to the screen, and that his life’s work has finally earned him more than the miniscule income that comic-strip syndication provides for all but the widest circulated comics. (And I find MARMADUKE far more esthetically rewarding than the far more popular GARFIELD.)