Garfield: The Movie

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated PG for brief mild language. 
Starring:Bill Murray (voice), Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt 
Directed By:Peter Hewitt 

Final Grade: 

Hollywood has finally moved on to a new level. First they brought us and continue to bring us the plethora of 70’s TV shows on the big screen, and then the comic book craze came along. Running wilder than Hulkamania, CGI geeks sat in labs creating computer Generated Comic Book Characters, and cool special effects to bring these TV and comic book creatures to life. After bringing Scooby Doo to the big screen, they decided to move on to the Sunday funny pages. For hours tech nerds sat in their nerdery typing away ones and zeros until they created the newest CGI monster; America’s favorite fat cat, Garfield. Pleased with their creation (or at least their fat paychecks) they fully animated the cat and stuck him smack dab in the middle of a live action comedy. The end result is 20th Century Fox’s newest creation, a live action Garfield flick.

Anyone who has opened a newspaper has been exposed to Garfield. Cartoonist Jim Davis created the lazy fat cat’s comic strip in 1978. Today, the strip appears in over 2570 newspapers and is read daily by 263,000,000 people around the globe. The movie re-introduces us to the feline as he does what he does best, watch TV and eat. But when his owner Jon Arbuckle brings home a new pet, a dog named Odie, Garfield wants nothing more than to see the dog get lost. But when Odie does just that and Garfield realizes how much that this upsets Jon, he decides to think about others for the first time in his life and sets out in search of the lost pup.

I have to admit I feared for my life when I heard of this film. Growing up the two things I could always count on were Scooby Doo and Garfield. I used to love Scooby Doo as a child and I watched the film make a mockery of the cartoon show. I feared that Garfield would suffer the same dismal fate. Dragging my feet I tromped into the box office only to find my self pleasantly surprised.

Actor Bill Murray is the voice of our favorite cat, and does it quite well. Murray does a great job as the voice and nicely pulls off the cynical attitude of Garfield. Murray’s humor is shown through the voice of Garfield, and it makes a moviegoer smile, especially if you remember a time when Murray used to be one of the biggest names in Hollywood Comedy in the 80’s. However I was saddened when I heard the voice they chose for Nermal, Garfield’s annoying next door neighbor cat. Remembering the Cartoon show quite well, I expected Nermal to have a more obnoxious feminine sounding voice, but instead it was nearly the opposite. In fact the whole Nermal character just didn’t feel as thought it was played out right. If you are an Odie Fan, there wasn’t much for you here; they pretty much downplay the pup as a paper-thin plot device to make Garfield move off the couch. As for Jon, they chose Breckin Meyer to play the part, who manages to do a decent job in the role.

The script was light and fluffy yet humorous and it has the ability to entertain both a child and an adult. They don’t resort to packing in drug references and bodily humor for an extra gag or two like another franchise tends to do (*cough* Scooby Doo *cough* ). All in all, Garfield is some good old-fashioned family fun.

But… Come on did you actually think I would have no complaints with this flick? Surprisingly enough, my complaints are limited. I had hoped for a little more time with Odie on the screen, and I also hoped for more screen time for Jennifer Love Hewwit, who plays Garfield and Odie’s Veterinarian and Jon’s love interest. I also didn’t like the fact that they couldn’t choose if they wanted to use CGI or not. Garfield didn’t look bad as a CGI character, but he did look funny stacked against the other live animals. Odie is played by a live dog, as well as all the other neighborhood dogs and cats in the film. Garfield is the only one that is CGI. It just looks silly. But in the broad spectrum of things it could have been far worse. The CGI work on Garfield is well done, and will impress the little kiddies.

In the end though my childhood is safe. I can still say the Garfield franchise has hope, and that there is a decent kids movie out there. While Garfield doesn’t stack up against the other big blockbusters out there, you could do a lot worse. If you are in the mood and looking for something light hearted and mild mannered for the whole family then this flick might be up your alley. If not, save your buck and continue to read the comics and you’ll still be in for a great treat. 

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