Dog upstages ‘Garfield’

  • By Robert Horton / Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, June 10, 2004 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

If the cartoon Garfield were watching the new “Garfield The Movie,” I suspect he would be more than a little irked. This movie, which is supposedly about the rotund, lazybones cat, is in fact stolen by a dog.

Adding to the ignominy, the movie Garfield must actually buddy up to the dog, Odie, saving him from harm and pledging his everlasting friendship. It’s enough to make any self-respecting feline hack up a hairball.

But, let’s face it, Americans love their dogs, so it’s probably a canny device by the moviemakers. Not that Americans don’t love Garfield – Jim Davis’ orange slacker is the most popular comic-strip character in the world, a veritable cash cat. But it would probably be difficult to make his lofty disdain work for an 80-minute movie.

In the film, Garfield is a computer-animated creature, skillfully blended into an otherwise live-action picture. His voice is provided by Bill Murray. This is, at times, inspired casting, although at other moments you hear only the weary voice of the star of “Lost in Translation.”

Garfield’s owner John (Breckin Meyer) is trying to romance a veterinarian (Jennifer Love Hewitt), which is how he ends up inadvertently adopting a dog and upsetting the regular lifestyle of conspicuous consumption that marks Garfield’s existence.

Odie, a half-dachshund, half-cairn terrier, is kidnapped by a demented cable-TV children’s show host. This villain is played by Stephen Tobolowsky, an actor whose pleasure in playing fools is always infectious.

Curiously, Odie the dog doesn’t speak, although we hear the voices of Garfield, Garfield’s kitty friends, and a menacing dog, Luca. Perhaps Odie understands the power of withholding. The computer animation really is quite remarkable; you forget about it within the first five minutes. Garfield’s pot belly jiggles with authenticity. (He wouldn’t stand a chance in a back-alley scrap with Puss-in-Boots from “Shrek 2.”)

“Garfield The Movie” is for kids, and they should love the slapstick, the lasagna jokes and the sight of Garfield and Odie disco dancing on their hind legs.

Adults will be a tougher sell, unless you already have the Garfield mug, the Garfield calendar, the Garfield screensaver, etc. etc. Considering how many zillions of dollars this cat has already earned on such things, there may be a lot of you, in which case this movie should make another killing.

Jon (Breckin Meyer), his new pet, Odie and veterinarian Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) are oblivious to the one they left behind – Garfield.

“Garfield The Movie” HH

Franchise purring along: The lazybones orange cat is computer-animated in this movie, although he exists in a live-action world. Not much for adults, but kids should love the slapstick, and Bill Murray’s vocalizing as Garfield provides a few moments.

Rated: PG rating is for subject matter.

Now showing: tk

“Garfield The Movie” HH

Franchise purring along: The lazybones orange cat is computer-animated in this movie, although he exists in a live-action world. Not much for adults, but kids should love the slapstick, and Bill Murray’s vocalizing as Garfield provides a few moments.

Rated: PG rating is for subject matter.

Now showing: Everett 9, Galaxy, Grand, Marysville, Mountlake, Stanwood, Metro, Pacific Place, Woodinville, Cascade.

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