Garfield: The Movie (2004)

Genres - Children's/Family, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Family-Oriented Adventure, Family-Oriented Comedy  |   Release Date - Jun 11, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - Hong Kong , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Take the longest and most obnoxious Bill Murray monologue you can imagine, then use it as the thought bubbles of an overstuffed cartoon cat, and you've got Garfield: The Movie. Murray didn't write the movie, but his whiny readings make the material all his own. Maybe it's his way of acting out after failing to win the Oscar for Lost in Translation -- go associate yourself with the most crassly commercial enterprise you can find. The fact that it scored 75 million dollars at the domestic box office is shocking, since Garfield was the subject of much derision even before its release: the big-budget reincarnation of a character no one cared about or wanted to see. So it would have been a coup if Murray could have wrung some laughs from the lasagna jokes in Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow's script, and indeed, he doesn't. After the script exhausts the cat and dog hijinks around Jon Arbuckle's home, it moves out into the larger world for a chase story involving a children's entertainer (played by Stephen Tobolowsky). Not only did Toy Story and Stuart Little do this storyline better, but the visuals in those movies were a lot more cutting edge. If all the film's animals were done digitally -- or if they had at least given us a digital Odie, who just begs for a faithful rendering -- it might have been something. But as constructed, Garfield the character sticks out -- isolated within his own animation style and stream of rhetorical one-liners. Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt bring gusto to the thankless roles of the two humans interacting with the CGI cat, but they should be looking at themselves in the mirror, right alongside Murray.