Film review: ‘THE GARFIELD MOVIE’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Before the Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons, Garfield the cat became an unlikely cultural icon.  The droll, gluttonous, lasagna gobbling, pathologically lazy feline who hates Mondays, first appeared in the late 70’s and has been a beloved character for both children and adults ever since.  Garfield’s misadventures have been adapted for various animated films, most notably in 2004’s Garfield: The Movie with, who else but Bill Murray voicing the cynical, sarcastic critter.   Now our furry friend’s back in The Garfield Movie, this time voiced by Chris Pratt.  While it’s mostly perky and occasionally clever, the film doesn’t do anything particularly inventive with the Garfield concept and its convoluted ‘heist movie meets Garfield origin story’ plot may see the littlies in the cinema become a bit restless.

In the midst of an idyllic life gloriously hoovering enormous amounts of fast food, Garfield, along with dog Odie is snatched from his human John Arbuckle’s home and drawn into a crazed cat named Jinx’s (Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddington) plan to steal a tanker truck full of milk.  Along the way Garfield learns the truth about his family and the events that shaped his life.

The heist scenario provides the setting for a caper film parody and a procession of sight gags, some of which it should be noted involve Garfield taking a beating.  The film occasionally descends into the loud, manic frenzy typical of contemporary animated movies but it’s mostly tolerable for us older folks.

Director Mark Dindal, who has lengthy resume as an animator of well-known cartoon fantasy films stretching back to The Fox and the Hound in 1981, gives this movie a bouncy energy which is underscored by some spirited music from veteran film score composer John Debney.  Dindal and the animation team have fashioned a mostly pleasing and uncluttered visual style that also features some impressively detailed CGI work.

Like the Toy Story films, this movie attempts to push the emotional buttons of family and separation but for the most part keeps things pretty light.

Chris Pratt does a perfectly acceptable job as Garfield although his voice doesn’t exude the iconic mordant wit of a Bill Murray.  A supporting voice cast, which includes Samuel L Jackson, Ving Rhames and Snoop Dogg is pleasing to hear but they don’t have the material to forge memorable characters.

This is hardly a cartoon classic and in fact falls well short of contemporaries like the Toy Story and Despicable Me films but it was generally fun, occasionally funny and watchable enough for youngsters and grumpy cat adults.

Nick’s rating: ***

Genre: Comedy/ Animation.

Classification: G.

Director(s): Mark Dindal.

Release date: 30th May 2024.

Running time: 101 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm on 88.3 Southern FM.


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