The Garfield Movie Review

Reviews Films


If anyone could resurrect Garfield from it’s previously dismal incarnations it would be Mark Dindal, director of cult classic The Emperor’s New Groove. Harking back to slapstick humour with strangely sophisticated punchlines, reminiscent of your favourite Looney Tune classics – The Garfield Movie is looking better than it’s 2004 iteration – but is it really one to watch? 

Starring as the world’s favourite orange lounge cat is Chris Pratt, who is supported by Nicholas Hoult as his hapless owner Jon Arbuckle. This adventure sees Garfield reuniting with his long lost father Vic (Samuel L Jackson) to undertake a classic heist, alongside a host of new characters. Pratt is engaging as a voice actor – spunky and wry, he gives Garfield more of a ‘mainstream’ appeal. However, it does seem that every second animated character is voiced by Pratt at the moment. Perhaps we’re reaching animated Chris overload? 

While our leading man might over-done, the supporting cast of animals are done fairly well. Jackson is stereotypical as Garfield’s street-tough dad but Vitto Rhames gives a surprisingly rounded and deep performance as Otto the cow, trying to find his lost love Ethel. 

One element that does seem tone deaf in this day and age are two villains. One human and one cat, they are both presented as shrill, controlling and strikingly un-feminist. The villain of the cat world, the revenge-crazed Jinx (Hannah Waddingham), does have an in depth backstory, but seems to be completely consumed by the need to eradicate Garfield’s father Vic, rather than live her own life. Our human villain does not even get that much. 

It is interesting to see that Garfield has been somewhat de-clawed – he is not as sassy or crotchety as he is in the comics. His only remaining personality seems to be an obsession with italian food and an enduring hatred of Mondays. This makes it clear that this iteration of the franchise is no longer aiming solely for the nostalgia factor – they’ve moved on to the next generation – their kids. 

Although it is clearly aimed at the younger generations, much of the integrity of the original cartoon has been preserved, from a similar animation style to classic joke formulas, and the occasional fourth wall break. Perhaps this is the impact of Jim Davis as Executive Producer. For us oldies it can be a bit tedious, but again, clearly we are not the cash cow. To engage with the youngies there are some notable, somewhat twee, modernisations – from lasagna dropped off by drones, to ‘Catflix’ (endless streams of funny cat videos). 

Despite being for children this film does have a needlessly complex plot. There’s long-lost fathers, evil villains, a heart wrenching cow love story and the rise of big agribusiness. Oh, and don’t forget a seemingly pointless training montage. 

This is a better Garfield than we have had previously, but is still a far cry from Garfield in its heyday. Kids might have a decent time, but as an adult you might find yourself wanting more. Jim Davis’ magic just isn’t meant for the big screen. 5/10