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Review: Garfield: The Movie

You wouldn’t know by watching the film that it’s adapted from Jim Davis’s adorable but one-joke comic strip.

Garfield: The Movie
Photo: 20th Century Fox

You wouldn’t know by watching Garfield: The Movie that it’s adapted from Jim Davis’s adorable but one-joke comic strip about a lazy cat with an insatiable love for lasagna and a cynical response for everything. I much preferred “Garfield and Friends,” the Saturday morning toon which ran on CBS for six years beginning in 1988 (you know, the one where Garfield didn’t sing and surf down stairwells), but this humiliating film doesn’t seem aimed at either fans of the underrated series or Davis’s 26-year-old strip. When Jon (Brecken Meyer) brings Odie home from the vet, Garfield understandably feels left out. After the cat perpetuates the dog’s disappearance, guilt sets in and the feline must rescue the pooch from the evil clutches of TV goon Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky). Not only does director Peter Hewitt make absolutely no attempt to evoke the look of the boxed-in strip or bring color to the film’s aesthetic (clearly the suits at Fox didn’t send the crew copies of Babe: Pig in the City or Stuart Little before production began), screenwriters Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow turn the Bea Arthur of the feline world into a coked-up blabbermouth who trades in pop-cultural parts. The original Garfield liked to conserve his energy—he barely spoke, but the monstrosity Bill Murray brings to life doesn’t shut the fuck up. For anyone who didn’t want to crawl into the fetal position when Shaggy grew breasts and a pimped-out Scooby danced with Ruben Studdard in Monsters Unleashed, then there’s probably something here for you: lame pop-cultural references (“Got milk?”), even lamer wordplay (Garfield is apparently on a “Catkins diet” and mentions that he once had to get a catscan), tired pop songs to dress up how soulless the set pieces are. Sure, that’s the same shit that fuels the bogus Shrek 2, but CGI Garfield has nothing on Antonio Banderas’s wide-eyed, scene-stealing Puss In Boots. (One teeny mitigating factor: Pookie is still adorable.) A word of warning: The cat’s love of lasagna is still intact, but the feline is the only CGI creation in the film. As if the voice-work in the film wasn’t lousy enough, you still have to deal with the sight of a computer-animated Garfield shaking his rump to a hip-hop video (The Black Eyed Peas or Carmen Elektra—I couldn’t tell, I was looking through the space between my index and middle fingers) and sharing screen time with a real-life Jack Russell Terrier whose tongue has nothing on the real Odie’s. Oh yeah, Jennifer Love Hewitt is also in it.

Cast: Bill Murray, Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Stephen Tobolowsky, Geoffrey Gould, Debra Messing, Alan Cumming, Mo'Nique, Nick Cannon Director: Peter Hewitt Screenwriter: Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow Distributor: 20th Century Fox Running Time: 80 min Rating: PG Year: 2004 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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