The Garfield Movie Review

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Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: 

The next generation of children get their introduction to the lasagna loving, Monday hating cat with “The Garfield Movie”. Introducing a modern twist, Garfield finds himself reuniting with his long lost father. After getting reacquainted, he must join his dad on a high stakes heist to clear his name. Joining them on this mission is Garfield’s canine companion, Odie. Can Garfield and his dad get over their differences? Or will they let past issues complicate things?

Positives:

“The Garfield Movie’s” greatest strength is the digestibility of it all (no not the lasagna). Specifically, families will be able to take the whole crew and find some enjoyment with it. There is nothing really unique about the story, but the light hearted entertainment value is a nice break from reality. The animation style is very welcoming to younger viewers, embracing the whimsical nature of the story. Kids will enjoy the colorful characters and glossy texture of everything on screen. I especially thought Odie’s animation was cute for younger viewers. Since the movie comes out Memorial Day weekend, I’d say the IP surrounding the character will be a good excuse for families to come to the theaters on a long weekend. You could do worse than Garfield!

I also think it was a smart move to modernize the character for a new generation. The textbook characteristics of Garfield are still there, but there are enough zany jokes and action sequences to keep younger viewers engaged. I can see a nice little franchise coming from the film if it is successful. The central idea of a father reuniting with his son after years of a strained relationship isn’t setting the world on fire. But I have to admit that this was a nice change of pace in the Garfield story. It opens up new possibilities to explore with the character. By nature of his material, Garfield isn’t a franchise built on extensive plot. They’re simple, small stories. The filmmakers did a nice job of bringing in newer elements while keeping Garfield’s personality in check. His newest film does enough to reinvigorate the franchise and give it a breath of fresh air, even if it doesn’t do anything extravagant. Sometimes that’s enough. 

Negatives:

Although revisiting Garfield’s shenanigans comes with a number of laughs, it doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before. The story is formulaic to a fault, almost as if they were playing it safe enough to make sure it was simple enough for younger audiences. To be fair, that’s the main audience…and if they’re happy that’s what matters. The story doesn’t hit the emotional beats of the better family films either. It does enough to be satisfactory but doesn’t do enough to be memorable. I bet families will go see the movie, have a good time, and move on with their lives. Like I say, sometimes that’s enough, especially on a holiday weekend. 

The story also didn’t feel like a typical Garfield comic either. It almost felt like the studio wrote an animated film with a heist plot and needed a bigger name attached to sell tickets. So they slapped Garfield’s name on the poster and wrote a story around the character. I could see purists of the fanbase being unhappy with this. I also thought the voice casting was a mixed bag. Chris Pratt does a fine enough job as Garfield, but Samuel L Jackson felt like a miscast. His voice didn’t mix well with the character he was playing. 

Conclusion:

For better or worse, “The Garfield Movie” is exactly what I expected it to be. It’s fast paced, light hearted entertainment that will make a lot of younger viewers happy. The target demographic will probably have a great time and have it on repeat when it releases on digital platforms. But if a memorable animated film is what families are looking for, this isn’t it. This is perfectly fun, disposable entertainment for families of all generations. Not a bad way to spend a long weekend when picking a movie to watch.