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Release Date: 05/24/24 [Cinemas]
Genre: Animation. Adventure. Comedy.

Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment. 

"After Garfield's unexpected reunion with his long-lost father, ragged alley cat Vic, he and his canine friend Odie are forced from their perfectly pampered lives to join Vic on a risky heist." 


Did you know that cats cannot eat tomatoes, or even ingest tomato sauce? In fact, the garlic and onion found in most tomato sauces is considered quite toxic to cats. That means that Garfield, the smooth talking cat with an affinity for Italian cuisine, should have died a long time ago. While it sounds cruel, you're sure to come to the same realization if you watch the new animated film about the titular character, The Garfield Movie.


Based on Jim Davis’ comic strip Garfield, and directed by Mark Dindal, the film adapts the character for the modern age. The film literally opens with him using a cellphone to order an insane amount of food from a pizzeria. While it makes sense, it also foreshadows just how out-of-touch this adaptation will be.


Shortly after we’re introduced to the character, he breaks the fourth wall to present a flashback to the day that changed his life. In the flashback, we see him left in an alley by a large shadowy figure. Although the figure tells him to stay, and that he’ll be back, baby Garfield picks up the scent of something delicious and follows his nose to a local restaurant. There he sees a man sitting alone by himself. That man turns out to be Garfield’s future owner, Jon. After sneaking into the restaurant and getting into some hijinks together, Jon decides to take Garfield home. In a brief montage and exposition dump, Garfield breaks down all the years leading up to the present, including how his companion Odie entered the picture. Fast forward to the present and we see Garfield and Odie bond over food while simultaneously living their lazy lives. It’s in this brief moment that the film understands who Garfield is. It’s from this point where the film goes completely stray. 


One evening, Garfield and Odie are petnapped by two dogs, who work for a Persian cat named Jinx. Once taken to her lair, they are rescued by a much larger cat named Vic who looks suspiciously like Garfield. Unsurprisingly, this cat is, in fact, Garfield’s father and the same shadowy figure that left him in the alley all those years ago. Before the two can catch up or reconcile, Jinx emerges. In another short montage and exposition dump, it’s revealed that she and Vic used to be friends. They used to be a part of a crew that used to steal milk. While she is obviously still bitter, she insists that she has only kidnapped Garfield as a means of luring Vic to help her with a “job.” And in the blink of an eye, the animated film marketed towards kids becomes a blatant Mission Impossible rip-off, complete with Ving Rhames playing an animated animal version of Luther!


The remainder of this film follows Garfield, Odie, and Vic as they attempt to complete this heist. The result is derivative, dull and dumb. By the time you stop and realize that the characters have to break into a farm that has maximum security, you actually lost a few brain cells. Even Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, which isn’t a gem either, proved that it was possible to make a playful heist movie that all ages would enjoy. Here, it feels like the writers didn’t even try. Or that they completely missed what made the character so entertaining in the first place. That’s saying a lot considering that David Reynolds, who wrote Disney bangers such as Mulan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Finding Nemo (!) is credited as a writer on the film. 


The original comic strip focuses on Garfield’s shenanigans as an indoor pet. He’s lazy. He’s sarcastic. Eating lasagna is the most exciting thing he does. While all cats are curious, canonically he’s rarely been curious enough to leave his fridge behind. More importantly, he is no action hero. That’s where the film continues to fundamentally fail him. 


Not even the charismatic Chris Pratt can save the film with his portrayal as the titular cat. That makes surprising supporting turns from actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Cecily Strong and Nicholas Hoult futile too.

While not the animated or summer blockbuster Sony wanted, The Garfield Movie shouldn’t be seen as a complete cat-astrophe. The way in which it spectacularly misunderstands the source material should remind studios and audiences that not every property is destined for adaptation. And that maybe it's time to whisker away some of the older icons in favor of some original ones.


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