Garfield: The Movie Review

Garfield: I hate Mondays.

Beware: Spoilers may follow.

Live action adaptations of childhood icons always seem to get it wrong don’t they? From the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies to the Smurfs movies, these live action adaptations really don’t seem to get their source material down. And among many classic movie blunders is the topic of today’s review. Based on the Jim Davis comic strip, it proves to have little to do with what Garfield is all about.

The story involves the titular lazy cat who lives with his owner John Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer). John decides to expand his animal family after being given a dimwitted but lovin dog, named Odie by his love interest veterinarian Liz Wilson (Jennifer Love Hewitt). Garfield gets so fed up with Odie eventually that he devises a scheme to get rid of him. He however eventually realizes his wrongdoing and sets out to rescue Odie from a greedy television host named Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky).

The underlying theme of this movie is that of friendship between these two characters with Garfield’s resentment and jealousy for his new friend turning into that of acceptance. But Garfield’s reason for searching for Odie is almost vague and there’s nothing convincing in it when Garfield finds him and tells him he is his friend. This really makes it one-dimensional and removes any heart it’s trying to go for. The script is also filled with multiple dated pop culture references and product placements, the latter of which are featured in places downright implausible for it to be featured.

Bill Murray is a good choice to voice the character of Garfield particularly when you consider that Garfield’s original voice actor, Lorenzo Music took up the voice of Dr. Peter Venkman (Murray’s character in the Ghostbusters movies) in the Ghostbusters cartoon 18 years prior. But outside of the fact that he hates Mondays and enjoys lasagna there’s little resembling his cartoon counterpart. There’s little likable sense of sass, meanness, or cynicism in him. The overall CGI look of Garfield is downright ugly to look at. And thankfully while that same ugly CGI doesn’t spread to the other animal characters of this movie, no one looks or acts anything like their animated counterparts. Jon Arbuckle in the comics for instance is a pathetic loser with the bitter and cynical Liz Wilson constantly taking joy in his pain. Here, the two are just generic, good-looking, and nice with no humor, chemistry, or anything interesting. There’s also Nermal who is supposed to be the world’s cutest kitten and in no way is adorable, annoying, and is a full grown Siamese cat. Odie, while legitimately cute as a dog, also in no way resembles his cartoon counterpart.

Garfield: The movie has little to do with what made Garfield such an everlasting character. His sarcasm and wit seem to be completely missing here as is anything faithfully representing the overall source material. Children might find it a charming tale but there’s nothing engaging or creative about it. This is just one giant box of kitty litter.