Directed by: Mark Dindal
Written by: Paul A. Kaplan, Mark Torgrove, David Reynolds
Starring: Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Hannah Waddingham, Ving Rhames, Nicholas Hoult, Cecily Strong
Released: May 30, 2024
Grade: C+

The Garfield Movie

This isn’t the first crack at a Garfield movie.  A live action version feature was released in 2004 by 20th Century Fox with Bill Murray voicing the famed cat and Breckin Meyer playing his devoted owner, Jon.  The film was garbage and the sequel, released two years later, wasn’t much better.  It may be the world’s most syndicated comic strip but it was too difficult a step in taking Jim Davis’s simple drawings and translating them into a 90-minute movie.

Columbia and Sony Pictures are now giving in a run with an animated adaptation.  Chris Pratt seems to be a popular choice when looking for a distinctive voice (The Lego Movie, Onward, The Super Maro Bros. Movie) and here again, he’s called upon to bring Garfield to life.  The opening few scenes paint a familiar picture.  Garfield loves lasagna, midnight snacking, lounging at home… and he hates Mondays.  Living alongside Jon (Hoult) and Odie (the voiceless dog), Garfield sees himself as master of the house with full control over Jon’s time, emotions… and credit card.

There’s not much to the character and hence, the three-person writing team have created a formulaic tale to create action and adventure in the same vein as Puss in Boots.  Firstly, we learn Garfield has a father, Vic (Jackson), who re-enters his life in unusual circumstances.  Second, we’re introduced to a villainous Persian cat, Jinx (Waddingham) who blackmails Garfield and his dad into stealing milk from the nearby Lactose Farm.

Maybe Garfield isn’t meant for the big screen because, once again, I didn’t think much of this.  It’s a slight story with one-dimensional characters.  They talk a lot but never have anything particularly interesting or funny to say.  The material is no limited that they need to include unnecessarily long montages such as a sequence where Garfield and Vic go through a day-long training regime in preparation for their upcoming crime.  I’m surprised they didn’t use more of Jon who, despite being a key player in the comic strip, is largely ignored in this instalment.

In terms of comedic elements, there’s very little for adults and, based on the reactions at the preview screening I attended, I’m not convinced there’s enough for children either.  This might have passed for fun, family entertainment a few decades ago but in a world where the bar for animated films has been raised much higher, it doesn’t stand out from the pack.  Save the money and wait for it to reach a streaming platform.