Midnight Pub

A Quick Review of Garfield: The Movie (2004)



As a child I was completely obsessed with 2004's Garfield: The Movie (I'm an adult now by the way, feel old yet?). I remember watching it over and over again on both VHS and DVD, presumably the film was put on by my parents so I'd sit still and be quiet for an hour and a half. Recently I ended up putting the film on for my Grandparents since they've developed something of a taste for children's movies in recent years. As it turns out I still love it, so I figured I'd slap together this quick review while I have an hour spare. So, let's talk Garfield...


Garfield: The Movie is very standard fare for an early 2000s kids film: there are talking animals and they get up to some crazy shenanigans. In this film Garfield is the king of his own universe; he's fed well, lives in a comfortable house with his owner and has naïve "friends" who are willing to put up with his abusive behaviour. Garfield's only limitation is his unwillingness to step outside of his cul-de-sack (which is a term I can't possibly have understood as a child, us Brits tend not to use that term). However, his whole world is torn apart when his owner John adopts a dog, Odie, to try and impress a woman he's attracted to. This dethrones Garfield as the top dog (cat?) in the house and causes him to become bitter. Consequently he shuts Odie outside on his own, causing him to away. The rest of the film follows Garfield's attempt to rescue Odie.

This film could not be more of a obvious example of narrative structure if it tried: the film opens with Garfield as the king of his universe, he's then dethroned and has to work his way back to the top. The film ends with him adjusting to a new status quo in which everyone is friends and the bad guy is beat. It's like the stuff you read in narrative writing textbooks, which is probably why it was received so poorly by film critics. However, that's not to say that this film isn't good, it is (kind of), it's just very no-frills and forgettable, that's not to say that this film doesn't do anything interesting though, for example...


If you watch this film today there's nothing remarkable about the CGI animals in this film, however you have to keep in mind that this film was released in 2004, at least a few years before the CGI animated movie genre was *too* over-saturated, so for the time this would have been quite the novelty. And frankly, seeing a CGI Garfield interacting with things in the real world is still kind of fun, especially given the fact that the film settles in a happy medium between having Garfield be realistic yet still cartoon-y; for example he's able to dance and be part of various cartoon-y stunts but he still doesn't look *too* cartoon-y to the point of being out of place. Garfield is just somebody's cat in this film. Speaking of Garfield...

Comedy (Really this part is all about Bill Murray)

Garfield is the only part of this movie that's particularly funny for anyone who isn't a really young child, which isn't as bad as it sounds given that Garfield is voiced by Bill Murray and is therefore able to make up for any and all of this film's misdeeds (first Bill Murray now Chris Pratt, what is it with random celebrities voicing Garfield?). Fortunately Bill Murray retains his usual performing style here, which means a lot of dry, world weary and cynical dialogue, perfect! Frankly I love anything where Bill Murray plays a role and this film is surprisingly no exception. Without Bill Murray all we would have is forgettable slapstick and simple jokes on the level of the Garfield comic strip (Garfield is a cat that loves lasagna, isn't that funny everybody!? Lasagna Cat warrants a mention here).


In conclusion, Garfield: The Movie is an incredibly simple film with little redeeming value beyond it's at-the-time novel CGI and Bill Murray's performance as Garfield. However, I think that's okay. This film takes me back to a simpler time where the only worry was to decide which silly talking animal movie to watch, and I think that's something that we all need from time to time.