Mischievous Great Dane Marmaduke (Owen Wilson) drives his owner Phil (Lee Pace) up the wall with his crazy canine capers. When the hell-raising hound hears that Phil will be moving him and cat Carlos (George Lopez) from Kansas to Orange County, he's straining at the leash to get stuck into some Californian chaos. Working for pet food company Bark Organic, Phil has his work cut out promoting posh dog nosh for ambitious boss Don Twombly (William H. Macy).
Meanwhile, Marmaduke is making a dog's dinner of adapting to his new environment, more specifically the local park where he discovers a whole new pecking order for pooches. Falling for hot-to-trot collie Jezebel (Fergie Duhamel), Marmaduke is promptly warned off by her bullying boyfriend Bosco (Kiefer Sutherland).
Fortunately, Marmaduke finds doggie allies in the doting Mazie (Emma Stone), the cowardly Giuseppe (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and brainbox Raisin (Steve Coogan). As his antics put Phil's career in jeopardy, however, Marmaduke must learn some important lessons before he ruins his owner's life and misses out on true love.
Brad Anderson's long-running comic strip finally bounds its way onto the big screen with crowdpleasing exuberance. While Wilson's Great Dane is considerably more talkative than his funny paper forebear, the actor - no doubt hired following the success of mutt movie Marley and Me - gives a typically excitable performance.
Although Marmaduke will never be accused of originality, it's a thoroughly competent entry to the talking animal stable. Fans of the original comic strip may be dismayed to see Anderson's work given such a glossy Hollywood makeover, but its intended audience of under-tens is unlikely to complain.
With a strong voice cast, particularly the gruff Sutherland and an always welcome performance from Macy, Marmaduke goes some way to making up for its generic plotting and familiar gags. As such, this shaggy dog story might not be pedigree but it's not quite ready for a one-way trip to the vet either.