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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Today is my friend Mandy’s birthday. To honor that, I am going to look at the film version of one of her favorite cartoon strips: Garfield: The Movie. Starring Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Bill Murry (as the voice of Garfield), this film gets a lot of flak. Heck, it even has a 15% on Rotten Tomatoes. That isn’t a good sign.
In Garfield: The Movie, we find the titular lasagna-eating fat cat trying to deal with Odie, the new dog that Garfield’s owner brought home. Garfield continuously is trying to make life hard for the dog, but then goes a step too far when his actions indirectly cause Odie to be stolen by a nefarious television host who hopes to use Odie’s show-stealing talents for his own gain. Feeling guilty, Garfield now has to track down Odie.
The story isn’t the most original, and there are lots of clichés. Surprisingly, it doesn’t bother me all that much. When I sat down to watch this a few years back (it was on TV and I was too lazy to change the channel), I was expecting the absolute worst. Maybe because my expectations were so low that I couldn’t possibly be disappointed. The movie, at worst, is inoffensive. Kids would be entertained. Is that really so bad? There are much worse movies out there for kids.
There are some strange bits in the movie. Garfield is a CGI creation, which makes sense. Yet, all the other animals are real. Even the ones who talk. Why? Wouldn’t it have made more sense for all the pets to be in the same animated style as Garfield? Maybe the budget couldn’t afford it.
And the film also suffers from the “hey, let’s be edgy with pop-culture references!” syndrome that a lot of these adaptations have. Did we really need a Black-Eyed-Peas song to pop up? Or Garfield to sing and dance to “I Got You”? Probably not.
Garfield: The Movie isn’t revolutionary, but it isn’t terrible. It is light entertainment that can be easily digested and disposed of. I suppose a lot of the disappointment that came with this film has to do with people wanting it to be better. I can get behind that argument. Garfield is up there with Charlie Brown and Snoopy by being one of the most beloved comic strip characters out there. If you are going to do a movie, you better get it right and it better be good. There were a lot of misfires this film made, but at the end of the day, Garfield: The Movie can be enjoyed for what it is.
Trivia: Bill Murray supplies the voice of Garfield. Garfield was originally voiced by Lorenzo Music in a series of TV specials in the 80s and 90s. Lorenzo Music also voiced Peter Venkman in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon – a character Bill Murray, of course, originated in 1984’s Ghostbusters.