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May 24, 2024 / Sony Pictures Canada

Starring: Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Hannah Waddingham, Ving Rhames, Nicholas Hoult

Directed By: Mark Dindal

Garfield (voiced by Chris Pratt), the world-famous, Monday-hating, lasagna-loving indoor cat, is about to have a wild outdoor adventure! After an unexpected reunion with his long-lost father – scruffy street cat Vic (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) – Garfield and his canine friend Odie are forced from their perfectly pampered life into joining Vic in a hilarious, high-stakes heist.

Written By Darren Zakus

Rating 3 out of 5

The Garfield Movie is exactly what parents are looking for for their young children: goofy, colourful, greatly animated and quick paced, even if it does not have enough adult targeted humour that many great family films possess.

For generations, Garfield has been a staple of popular culture. From his love of his lasagna, his hatred towards Monday, or just his overall lazy demeanor, this orange tabby cat has earned a special spot in people’s hearts. He has made many appearances beyond his initial comic runs, including multiple television shows and two movies, and Garfield is coming back to the big screen alongside Odie for yet another adventure. Stepping into the role and following in the footsteps of Bill Murray is Chris Pratt, and despite being in so many animated films these days, he is actually a good casting choice as his voice naturally lends itself to Garfield’s sarcasm. The film itself is fun, definitely more targeted towards younger viewers, but there is still fun for Garfield fans of all ages to have with it.

There is a distinction between children’s films and family films. While both targeted towards younger audiences, family films tend to have a broader appeal to adult viewers that offer up enough for audiences of all ages to enjoy. Children’s films on the other hand, while they may have moments for parents taking their children to the movies, the overall experience is one made for the young ones and not their parents. While The Garfield Movie starts off strong with a sweet meeting between Jon and adorable baby Garfield (so cute that the film plays it twice) and a montage that captures the nostalgia of the Garfield comics that adult viewers will no doubt enjoy, the film quickly shifts from being a family film to a generic children’s film. Garfield is everyone’s favourite lazy tabby cat who loves nothing more than Italian food, but somehow the film morphs into a heist/action film with callbacks to Mission: Impossible and Top Gun, both in the set pieces that the film has and the musical cues. While there is an important message for younger viewers and a heartwarming ending that will no doubt win over older viewers, it feels a little too generic to be a Garfield film, dashing the hopes of long time fans of the character and becoming just another children’s animated film.

Having said that, the film is packed with goofs and laughter that will keep younger viewers entertained for the entire one hundred minute run time, while throwing in some great laughs for adults. The comedy is quick paced, incredibly juvenile for the most part which will have children thoroughly pleased throughout the film, while the odd nuggets are slipped in for older viewers. The one joke relating the road kill possum to Daniel Day Lewis’ method acting had me dying of laughter, while some fun musical cues and jokes will have parents chuckling. There’s enough to entertain viewers of all ages, but compared to Pixar and some DreamWorks Animation films which are able to connect with adult viewers on a much more meaningful level and given the comedic history of Garfield, The Garfield Movie slightly misses the mark for being a crowd pleasing family comedy outing this summer movie season. But, every moment that features Odie is brilliant, effortlessly capturing the happy go lucky and caring sidekick of Garfield with a wonderful comedic timing and earnest sentiment that consistently stole the entire film for me. Seriously, when is Odie getting his own film! From a visual standpoint, the animation is impressive, crisp and colourful, promising an exciting visual experience from start to finish.

Helping the film out is the talented voice cast led by Chris Pratt as Garfield. Say what you want about Pratt being in every animated film, but he is a natural fit for the character. He has that sarcastic voice that captures the essence of Garfield with ease, that even though Pratt does nothing with his voice to create a unique personality for Garfield, it's exactly what the character requires. Samuel L. Jackson is fine as Garfield’s father Vic, while Nichols Hoult is unrecognizable in the best way possible as Garfield’s owner Jon. Hannah Waddingham, Brett Goldstein and Bowen Yang are all tons of fun in their roles as the film’s villains, though there is not enough of them, and Cecily Strong makes a big impact in her scenes as Marge. Though, it is Harvey Guillén and Ving Rhames who are the standouts as Odie and Otto respectively. Guillén dazzles as Oddie, capturing the hyper activity and gleeful cheer of Odie without a word, bringing to life this timeless character with Odie’s excited yelps and barks, while capturing his bleeding heart with his quieter whimpers as he is there for whatever Garfield needs… whether Garfield knows it or not. Rhames on the other hand is great as Otto, the ox who helps Garfield, Odie and Vic break into the milk farm, becoming their man in the chair to aid them on their big break in, bringing that wisdom and experience that he has brought to the Mission: Impossible franchise for years.

There is no doubt that Sony Pictures has a box office hit on its hands with The Garfield Movie given the recognition and popularity of the beloved character that will make it an easy decisi for parents to take their kids to. It’s safe, fun and ultimately harmless, but given the adoration that myself and many viewers have for the characters, it’s easy to see the missed potential of what a hilarious and crowd pleasing family film it could have been. While it has its stand out comedic moments and makes Odie the star he has always been, The Garfield Movie is more interested in being a stereotypical kid’s film rather than the hilarious, sarcastic and nostalgic iteration of the beloved character older audiences will want from the film.

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