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  • Nate Adams

'The Garfield Movie' review: Orange feline headlines buoyant animated offering


Courtesy of Sony

 

Jim Davis’ animated comic strip “Garfield” has been around for almost 50 years and its main character, a lovable, fluffy, orange tabby who inhales lasagna and hates Mondays, has always felt like the embodiment of the American dream. Who wouldn’t want to sit around all day, ingesting copious amounts of carbs, watching tv, and having zero responsibility? In that essence, “The Garfield Movie,” the first such film since Bill Murray lended his voice to the 2004 live action version, captures the embodiment of the character while injecting the newest entry with a flamboyant, colorful energy sure to entertain youngsters who haven’t had that many movies targeted at them this year. 


2024’s “The Garfield Movie” is certainly more in tune with the spirit of the comics than its ill-begotten predecessors and switching into a CG animated medium proves the right touch. Paul A. Kaplan, Mark Torgove, and David Reynold’s screenplay is packed with a delicate balance of chuckles and meta references guaranteed to fly over the heads of little ones in attendance, but in a sea of extremely overwrought children’s features, “The Garfield Movie” never dials back the liveliness and at least stays true to itself. Even if that means peddling everything from Wal-Mart to Olive Garden, something tells me that’s exactly what Garfield would do to make a quick buck.


In “The Garfield Movie” we’re given the origin of how Garfield met his owner Jon (voiced by Nicholas Hoult). Like all kittens, Garfield (Chris Pratt) was adorable and when he was left alone by his father in a deserted alley, the orange critter went up to the window of an Italian restaurant and begged for some food. It was love at first sight and Jon scooped him up and took him home. Cut to a few years later, and they have adopted a dog named Odie (Harvey Gullen) and have made a good life for themselves that’s not challenging. 


Garfield’s world, however, is upended when two dogs Roland (Brett Goldstein) and Nolan (Bowen Yang) kidnap him and Odie for nefarious purposes. Chief among them is to lure Garfield’s father Vic (Samuel L. Jackson) out of hiding so the villainous Jinx (Hannah Waddingham) can enact her revenge. She demands the trio to steal 1,675 quarts of milk from a company called Lactose Farms (nevermind the fact that cats, themselves, are lactose intolerant) or else they’ll face her wrath and end up at the dinner buffet in the sky. 


It forces the group to work together and team up with a bull named Otto (Ving Rhames) to execute a “Mission: Impossible” style heist. During all this, Garfield will surely learn some valuable lessons about family and friendship, and he, of course, will then process his abandonment issues and maybe realize his dad isn’t such a bad cat after all. It makes for a breezy, afternoon diversion that’s light on its feet and has no problem throwing around the characters like rag dolls stuck in a Looney Tunes short. 


There’s plenty of slapstick and food-related humor to keep “The Garfield Movie” afloat (that the movie doesn’t feature one fart joke is kind’ve miraculous). Director Mark Dindal surely didn’t set forth to make a new animated classic, though the bar for this series was always going to be very low. And between “The LEGO Movie,” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” Chris Pratt is slowly becoming the de-facto children’s star for the Gen Alpha generation. Watch out Jack Black.


Grade: B- 


THE GARFIELD MOVIE opens in theaters Friday, May 24th. 


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