Review: ‘The Garfield Movie’

Chris Pratt Can’t Save Our Favorite Lasagna-Loving Cat From A Case Of The Theatrical Mondays

Let me preface by saying I’m a HUGE Garfield fan. Growing up, my father got literally every volume of Jim Davis’s famous lasagna-loving cat. In fact, I can almost guarantee that the next time I visit my old man, I can almost guarantee that he’ll have numerous Garfield books either on the coffee table, or as bathroom reading material. A big part of my childhood was focused on old-school Marvel comics and Garfield volumes. As a result, I’m a big fan and would love to see a proper adaptation of Garfield on the big screen. Sure, we had the Bill Murray Garfield movies (Garfield: The Movie and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties), but they didn’t hit as much as I wanted them to. So, I went into The Garfield Movie with hopes of a fun and solid adaptation of Jim Davis’s beloved cat.

Needless to say, The Garfield Movie is another valiant attempt that unfortunately falls short. While the animation is great, and it even has a heartwarming story about the relationship between parents and their children, the film overall will keep kids laughing while making their parents (and old-school Garfield fans) struggle to remain awake. The Garfield Movie has Garfield (Chris Pratt fresh off of being Mario) teaming up with his favorite tormentee and best friend Odie (Harvey Guillén) on an adventure after he learns about his father Vic (Samuel L. Jackson) and has to help Vic from his nemesis Jinx (Hannah Waddingham).

Now as stacked as that cast is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. They team up with a bull named Otto (Ving Rhames), who needs to save his companion (Janelle James) from Jinx. In Jinx’s corner are her henchmen (Brett Goldstein and Bowen Yang). Garfield’s adoptive father/owner John (Nicholas Hoult) as well as an animal control officer (Cecily Strong). Hell, even Snoop Dogg shows up as one of Vic’s former partners in crime (named “Snoop Catt” at one point in The Garfield Movie. Needless to say, the cast is pretty stacked from a voice-acting perspective.

After Garfield and Odie are kidnapped by Jinx, he learns that he was taken captive simply to lure his father Vic out of hiding as Vic is responsible for Jinx having to spend time at the pound (jail) as they were part of a milk-stealing crime syndicate (yes, you read that correctly). Jinx orders Vic that he has to pay penance for her time locked away, and he has to steal milk from a dairy farm (yes, you read that correctly), and Garfield reluctantly has to help his father get out of a jam.

What makes Garfield, well Garfield is his deadpan humor through his daily observations. That’s why Chris Pratt and all his charm is a weird casting choice. I always read the Garfield comics with the voice of someone like Steven Wright or maybe H. John Benjamin in my mind. I wanted to give Chris Pratt a chance because he was actually great in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, but in The Garfield Movie, he’s just Star-Lord as a talking cat with his usually witty and charming persona, not necessarily the Garfield I had in mind.

While The Garfield Movie is a strange and out-of-place heist movie, it does have some charm. As Garfield reluctantly spends time with his father Vic, that’s where the heart of the story exists. He gets to understand why he was abandoned and learns who his father is. There are a few scenes meant to drive an emotional reaction from the audience, and it accomplishes that part of the film. There also is some updated and modernized humor: Garfield has a smartphone and pretty much leaves John in credit card debt by ordering lasagna and Italian food the film’s version of DoorDash countless times (I believe John’s got a $3,000+ bill by the end of the movie).

In all, The Garfield Movie is mostly simplistic and for young kids (who probably don’t really even know about Garfield). However, with most Garfield fans now having to check their 401k balances, it feels like a misfire now having the film “grow up” just a little bit. For parents taking their kids to see it this weekend, it’ll feel like a chore, but a chore with some fun moments sprinkled throughout it.

The Garfield Movie opens in theaters on May 24th.