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"The Garfield Movie" Review: [Insert Generic Kids Movie Here]

Since 1978, Garfield has been America's favorite orange tabby. Over the years, he has managed to jump off the comic page and into our hearts through TV, merchandise, and now another film entry.

"The Garfield Movie", set to release on May 24th, creates its story from new ideas and new characters. The movie starts off with a montage of visual gags before Garfield (Chris Pratt) talks to the audience and reveals his origin story. The majority of the story about how Jon (Nicholas Hoult) and Garfield met has already been shown in trailers.

One of the many new characters introduced is Garfield's father, Vic (Samuel L. Jackson). Vic abandoned his son in an alley when he was a child. When the two of them are reunited years later, Garfield harshly criticizes his father for his previous actions. However, this reunion is short-lived as the audience is quickly thrown into the plot.

Vic has lived a life of crime and, in the process, has wronged other cats. One of these cats, Jinx (Hannah Waddingham), had to serve time at the City Pound as a result of Vic's actions. Jinx hopes to get revenge by forcing Vic to go on a milk heist with Garfield and Odie. This plot feels pretty generic, and fails to be enhanced by the characters in the franchise.

Critically, the movie does have some problems. One of the major ones for me is Chris Pratt. Pratt has proven through his work in "The LEGO Movie", "The Super Mario Bros. Movie", and now "The Garfield Movie", that he is not a voice actor. He is just a voice. Pratt makes no attempt to replicate the monotone and sarcastic nature of Garfield, making the voice sound very generic.

The animation, on the other hand, is by far this film's highlight. I enjoyed how the movie kept its comic elements while still embracing the freedom that 3D animation allows. While there were definitely some "Tom & Jerry"-style gags, but they didn't feel out of place. The level of detail was also very impressive, paying attention to every small thing, including the fur on the cats themselves. It is clear that the animators poured effort into this film. It's just weighed down by the story.

Long-term fans of the franchise may be disappointed to see the direction the film decided to go. However, there are some Easter eggs throughout the film. The date "06-19-1978" can be seen in the film, referencing the date of the first Garfield comic. Binky the Clown's image can be seen on things such as cereal boxes. Mentions of Lyman, Jon's old roommate, can also be seen. Jon can even be seen doing his job as a cartoonist, which is rarely mentioned in any Garfield media.

Personally, in order to enjoy this movie, I had to step back and see what the movie actually is: a children's movie. And with Garfield originating from the funny pages, there are a lot of cartoonish gags and fourth wall breaks. This movie is entertaining enough to be a children's movie. But in the process, a lot of Garfield's charm disappears. Garfield is transformed from a lazy, monotone, indoor cat into a nimble, expressive, and adventurous one.

With all of this in mind and a runtime of less than two hours, the movie is worth watching if you are interested. The movie being generic does not implicitly mean that it's not good. It's just predictable, and can make older members of the audience feel out of place. That being said, this movie may be better to watch in the background when it becomes available to stream.

Final score: 6/10


I would like to thank Emagine Novi, Expand Marketing Group, Sony Pictures, and Columbia Pictures for giving me an advanced screening of this film.


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