THE GARFIELD MOVIE

★★

GARFIELD GETS ANIMATED

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Chris Dos Santos
26th May 2024

'Garfield' is one of those pop culture icons that needs no introduction. Even if you haven't read a comic or watched any of his media, you know that he hates Mondays and loves lasagna. He first came into our lives in 1978 in the comic strips, and then in 1982 he got his first of twelve primetime specials. In 1988 he got his first TV series 'Garfield and Friends', but it wasn't until 2004 that he finally made the jump to the big screen with a live-action/computer-animated film with the kitty being voiced by Bill Murray. This is where most kids of my generation got their first exposure to the orange tabby - the film and its sequel, 'A Tale of Two Kitties', which made bank at box office but had a less than stellar critical reception, and now simply serve as nostalgia for Gen Z. Since those films there have only been 3 direct-to-DVD films, another series 'The Garfield Show' and a short-lived short film compilation series 'Garfield Originals'. Now, 20 years after his first time visiting the big screen, he is back and completely animated.

'The Garfield Movie' follows the titular character (Chris Pratt, 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie', 'Guardians of the Galaxy' franchise) on his biggest adventure yet. After being abandoned by his dad, Vic (Samuel L. Jackson, 'Argylle', 'The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard'), he meets Jon (Nicholas Hoult, 'The Menu', 'Renfield') and the two click, with Garfield becoming his pet. As the years go on their family grows with the addition of Odie (Harvey Guillèn, 'Puss in Boots: The Last Wish', 'Wish'), a dog, and Garfield uses him to help get him food and watch TV. The pair get kidnapped by Ronald (Brett Goldstein, Apple TV+'s 'Ted Lasso') and Nolan (Bowen Yang, 'Dicks: The Musical', 'Fire Island') as part of a plan from the villainous Jinx (Hannah Waddingham, 'The Fall Guy', 'Hocus Pocus 2') to get back at something Vic did to her in the past. Now it's off the couch for Garfield as he is thrown into a full-on heist mission.

SWITCH: 'THE GARFIELD MOVIE' TRAILER 2

What can one say about 'The Garfield Movie'? It's truly a film that exists just to use an IP to turn a quick profit. It does nothing for the legacy of the franchise, nor does it seem interested in wanting to adopt new fans. The plot is just any genetic kids' movie with a Garfield skin attached. Franchise staples like Liz and Nermal are reduced to cameos, while others don't appear; we instead have a slew of new characters who leave little impact.

There are some positives. The animation is quite nice, with the translation from the comic strips to computer-animated designs handled very well. When the movie leans into those staples of the 'Garfield' humour it's actually really fun and has a great energy, but that all happens in the first ten minutes. The rest is truly just a generic animated kids' film. 'Garfield' has to steal milk from a factory that looks like it's out of 'The Boss Baby' and help a bull reunite with this lost love... you know, classic 'Garfield'.

It comes down to the fact that 'Garfield' - and this is the third time we have had to prove this - doesn't fit a feature-length film. While the live-action films did a better job adapting the character, all three fail to capture the Monday-hating cat. Even the first time show with 'Garfield' was a 20-minute episode broken into two shorts with the cat and another with characters from 'U.S. Acres'. This character just isn't supposed to hold a film - it was created to be funny in three hand-drawn panels.

What can one say about 'The Garfield Movie'? It's truly a film that exists just to use an IP to turn a quick profit. It does nothing for the legacy of the franchise, nor does it seem interested in wanting to adopt new fans.

During the credits, Hannah Waddingham sings what appears to be a villainous song for her character Jinx as concept art for the sequence is shown. For this being included in the credits, it seems to me there was a more creative film here. This song was really fun and high energy, something missing from the bulk of the runtime. Had it been included it wouldn't have saved the film, but it would have helped give it a bit more of an identity. There is a way to make a 'Garfield' movie work, but reducing him to this very generic plot in uninspired environments makes this a bland and hollow adventure.

'The Garfield Movie' once again proves that this cat doesn't work in a theatrical format. The movie is empty - I wasn't angry watching it; it was just images happening before my eyes. Even the kids in the audience were quiet the whole time, barely laughing. 'Garfield' in 2024 has the relevancy of sassy t-shirts sold at Jay Jays, and this film doesn't change that.

Not one 'Black Eyed Peas' song used - truly a crime.

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