Thursday, May 23, 2013

Movie Review: Garfield - the Movie

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: The opening parts are funny.
Cons: The rest of the movie isn't nearly as funny.
The Bottom Line:
I wanted to like
Garfield deserves much better
Just like a Monday

"Once Again, My Life Has Been Saved by the Miracle of Lasagna."

As a kid, I read the comics religiously.  And Garfield was a favorite back then.  I just loved this sarcastic, self-centered, lazy cat.  So I always intended to see Garfield: The Movie.  Somehow, I never got around to it until I caught it on TV.  Yep, free was the right price.

Garfield (voiced by Bill Murray) has it made.  As Jon's (Breckin Meyer) only pet, the cat can get away with just about anything.  Sleeping late?  Check.  Eating all of Jon's lasagna while leaving Jon his cat food?  Check.  And he never even has to leave their street.

All that changes on one of their frequent trips to veterinarian Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt).  Jon has been in love with Liz since high school.  He goes fully intending to finally ask Liz out on a date, but instead comes home with a new dog named Odie.  Garfield doesn't like the encroacher on his kingdom.  It's even worse that this is a dumb mutt.  But when Odie goes missing, Garfield decides he must go on a rescue trip.  Can he do it?

Probably because the title character is so iconic, the producers made Garfield a computer animated character while everything else, even the other animals, are live action.  As a result, Garfield is the only thing that looks like his comic strip counterpart.  All the effects worked quite well, however.

The first few minutes of the movie were pretty true to the strip.  I was smiling as characters and things I hadn't thought of in years came back to me.  I mean, the first line of the movie is "I Hate Mondays," a recurring quote from the strip.

But as the story starts to get going, the movie falls apart.  The movie wasn't really that funny.  Maybe Garfield's sarcasm and pessimism work better in small doses.  But I love that stuff, so I have a feeling the jokes were just falling flat.

Furthermore, the story was by the number predictable.  If I were enjoying it, I might not have cared.  But since I was already bored with things, I just sat there waiting for the movie to end.

And I never could get past the Jon/Liz relationship.  In this movie, the attraction is mutual.  In the strip, Liz can't stand Jon.  I was willing to overlook some of the other differences, but that's a pretty major one.

I'm not faulting the cast for any of this.  They all do a fine job.  But you can't make a non-funny script funny no matter how talented you are.  I was actually surprised to see several well known names voicing the animals.  People like Alan Cumming, Brad Garrett, Debra Messing, and Richard Kind voice characters here.  I've heard there was some debate about Bill Murray as Garfield.  Personally, I thought he was perfect in the part.

The few moments that put a smile on my face weren't enough to make the movie worth watching.  Instead of seeing Garfield: The Movie, find one of the comic strip collections.  You'll have a much better time.

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