Garfield The Movie (2004)

Film: Garfield The Movie
Release: 2004, theatrical
Starring: Bill Murray, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Breckin Meyer
Directed by: Peter Hewitt
Next in the series: Garfield 2 - A Tail of Two Kitties
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: Garfield the cat lives with his owner Jon Arbuckle on a dead-end street. Garfield being a walking ego, lives in total luxury until Jon is talked into adopting a dog by the vet he has a crush on.

 Hans' thoughts:

Of all the properties to make a movie about, Garfield is a very weird choice. Well-known for the newspaper strip of the same name, Garfield is a about a fat house cat that tortures those around him to feed his own greed. He likes lasagna, he loves to watch TV and he embodies cats as well as their owners pretty well. I can see why some might think that the humor of Garfield might translate well to the big screen, but as a live-action movie? Eh..

Okay let's get the casting out of the way first. As far as Garfield himself goes, Bill Murray is pretty much the perfect choice as the sarcastic cat. Murray's own comedic career is based very much in being a sarcastic, self-centered jerk on screen and that goes very much hand in hand with Garfield. The rest of the casting is pretty weird, the most questionable choice being Jennifer Love Hewitt as Liz the vet. In the comic strip, she's just as sarcastic as Garfield but in this movie she's played very much as the one-note love interest for Breckin Meyer's way too socially capable Jon. No seriously, in the comics Jon is supposed to be this wacky, socially awkward loser but in the movie he just seems like.. some guy. He's just way too successful in this movie.

The movie is filled with weird choices like this, such as making Garfield the only entirely computer generated character. The other talking animals in this movie are just real animals with weird looking computer effects pasted on top. I realise that making every single animal computer animated would have been expensive and that making Garfield just a normal-looking cat wouldn't have lent itself well to the visual gags - but really, I'm questioning the purpose of making the movie live-action at all as it stands.

This mix-up of CGI and real animals was just way too distracting
As for the plot, well it stays sort of true to the comic strip. We get a new origin story for Odie, we get Garfield just wasting time in front of the TV and we get a lot of familiar characters thrown in. There are new characters here, but they're not really imposing that much on the regulars. In actuality, even the main villain barely gets screentime. Speaking of the main villain, could they have tried any harder to make the perfect opposite of Garfield? He's a bald guy with an inferiority complex that's allergic to cats and hates lasagna. It's like the black smurf's from the Smurf comics that's evil and nasty because, well, the story tells them to.

As far as a Garfield the Cat story goes, I suppose you could have gone with a worse plot. I just really think they should have considered just making it an animated feature instead and stuck with it. The cgi cat certainly looks like Garfield, but it just looks so out of place in a live-action feature where it's the only cgi animal around. In the Scooby-Doo movie, the only animal aside from the random passing bird in the far away horizon was Scooby himself. It sort of worked because there were no real animals on screen to compare it to. The jokes in this movie are also really hit and miss, while Garfield himself gets the occasional one-liner there's not really much to salvage in it.

This movie would only serve well on services like Netflix or Hulu. Maybe a rental at best. If you're curious, sure. Give it a try. I just personally think you're better off watching the 80's TV-show Garfield & Friends instead. That or just reading the comic strip. As it stands, this movie is just downright bland.
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