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Marmaduke, 8/6/04

When I was in graduate school, my roommate and I decided to celebrate some minor life victory (and when you’re in graduate school, every victory is minor) by going to see a movie; for some reason, the movie we decided to see was Batman and Robin. We went in with high spirits, but by around forty-five minutes into it, I was trying to see what I could cram into my ear canals to somehow keep from having to listen to the dialog. At one point, Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing Dr. Freeze, says, “Do hear dat sound? It is da harbinger of your doom!” This man is now governor of one of your more major states.

Three or four years later, a date and I went to see American Virgin, which, for those who haven’t seen it (and you are legion), was a movie that was originally titled Live Virgin and spent several years “in the can,” as they say, due to its extreme awfulness. It did, however, star Mena Suvari, who would go on to appear in a pair of fairly well-received films called American Beauty and American Pie, so presumably the owners of Live Virgin said, “Let’s add ‘American’ to the name and release it on the unsuspecting masses!” And so it was done. I won’t go into this film’s awfulness in detail, except to say that, at its climax, respected British character actor Bob Hoskins has a depiction of a penis forcibly tattooed onto his forehead.

These are probably the two worst movie-going experiences I’ve ever had. While I was sitting in the movie theater on these two occasions, I fidgeted. I rolled my eyes. I sighed loudly. I made snide comments to my moviegoing companions, to the strangers in the rows ahead of me, and to the cruel universe at large.

I did not, however, cry. Nobody — not ever lovably destructive Great Danes — weeps because a movie is bad. Sometimes, they cry because a movie is extremely moving. So either (a) Marmaduke is a big sap who cries at cheesy movies, (b) Marmaduke’s owner is a heartless soul who doesn’t share her dog’s deep wellsprings of empathy, or (c) this comic strip has no insight on actual people’s reactions to actual films. I vote for (c). I suppose it’s harder to draw an irritated dog than a crying one, but that’s a flimsy excuse.

(Incidentally, the other thing I didn’t do during these movies was walk out in disgust. This might give you some insight into the pathology that drives me to read Marmaduke every day.)