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June 15, 2004

Garfield: The Movie should have stayed in still-frames

by Varun Gulati, Page Editor
For the record, in a movie less than an hour and a half long, the rising action should start before the first 45 minutes.

Director Peter Hewitt should have kept that fact in mind when making Garfield: The Movie. The first half of the movie is repetitive, stuffed with Garfield's (Bill Murray) dull, iconoclastic remarks about his entire life.

As the movie begins, the camera drifts from photos of Garfield and Jon (Breckin Meyer) atop a dresser to an alarm clock on a nightstand beside a miniature bed. The alarm clock promptly erupts in a loud clatter, waking up Garfield, who utters the three depressing words that had brought him to fame: "I hate Mondays."

As much as the cat in the comic strip is enjoyable, the same excitement is not in the movie. The film lacks flavor as a result of recycled jokes from the comics: Garfield jumps on a sleeping Jon to wake him up; Garfield exploits his cat friend Nermal (David Eigenberg) to suit his every whim; Jon attempts fruitlessly to get a date with the veterinarian, Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt); Garfield tricks the dog across the street that tries to eat him, and Garfield doesn't chase the mouse. Hewitt seemed to have had every intention of exploiting these diminutive gags over and over again.

Though the point of the movie is to portray Garfield as a fat, lazy, computer-generated cat, it makes a pathetic plot for a viewer who expects to see some action for his or her $6. When Nermal appears in the movie, he blatantly exposes Garfield's artificialness through the unavoidable fact: in real life, Nermal is a cat and Garfield doesn't exist. The down-to-earth Nermal contrasts in appearance and personality with the animated Garfield, whose eccentric personality, bright-hued fur and bulging eyes disappoint the audience as they realize once again that Garfield is not real.

The meager plot starts when Jon adopts the dog Odie to impress Liz. Garfield envies Odie the way an elder sibling envies an attention-hogging newborn, and plans to destroy Jon's image of Odie as a wonderful canine. One night, after Odie wins an award at a dog show and Garfield wrecks the house, Garfield locks Odie out of the house. Odie chases every car he sees until he winds up on an old lady's doorstep. The lady gets fooled into giving him up to a local broadcaster, Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky), who plans to use the award-winning dog to boost his Big Apple fame. The following childish plot to rescue Odie becomes predictable and bland.

Perhaps nothing is less exciting than receiving ironic commentary from an orange cat. Garfield makes a futile attempt at a wisecrack or hypocritical remark almost every 20 seconds. "Now I think I'll fall off the catkins diet," says the obese feline when he sees the milk truck. Through his hopeless journeys, he portrays himself as an idiot and ends up boosting Jon's image of Odie instead of destroying it.

One substantial difference for the avid Garfield comic reader is the disparity between the characters in the movie and the characters in the comic strips. Though most of the personalities are the same, Garfield alone retains his physical appearance in both works. Nermal is too large for his character; Odie does not have his trademark of extra-long, floppy ears; and the mouse Louis resembles the pipsqueaks in Dr. Dolittle that stand on their hind legs while talking. Jon's completely different personality wins him a date with Liz, who is a lot less stuck-up in the movie than in the comic.

Though dull at times, the movie does have classic scenes whose chaos humors the audience. When Garfield runs into the middle of a dog show and faces a dozen dogs trying to chase him away, he ends up wrecking everything just to be with Jon and Liz. Ironically, Garfield, who snuck to the dog show, also sneaks back but ends up destroying the living room in the few minutes John takes to make the trip from the car to the house. Other dog-and-cat fight scenes have stupidly fun humor similar cartoon fun and mindless laughs.

But there remains no doubt that the speechless, un-witty Garfield: The Movie upholds the saying, "Cat got ya tongue."

Garfield: The Movie is rated PG for brief mild language.

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  • yay!! on June 15, 2004
    go varun!!! yayyyy!
  • Chels on June 15, 2004
    Great review, Varun! Four days into junior year and already you've posted your first article. :)
  • sjp on June 15, 2004
    garfield, like broom hilda and many other comic strips (you know who you are) are just NOT FUNNY. the post needs to syndicate people like eric shansby for the comics page.
  • Nellii on June 16, 2004
    ooooo hunni bun! ur article is just as great as u are! im so proud of u! muahz!
  • ... (View Email) on June 16, 2004 gonna watch it anyway
  • MXL on June 16, 2004
    "Garfield" has gone lost past its prime of humor; now, it is just another way of making its creator Jim Davis richer.

    I, for one, think it's about time Davis put "Garfield" to sleep.
  • =) on June 16, 2004
    GOOD JOB, VARUN!! *claps*
  • someone... on June 17, 2004
    good review...i agree with it completely. i hate it when good books or comics are turned into movies. especially bad movies. this movie just ruins the whole fun of garfield. im stickign to the comics.
  • ##!!## on June 18, 2004
    wheeee go varun!! :)
  • pretty cool on June 20, 2004
    decent work rookie, good review, kind of wordy. Made the all too common SCO mistake of rooting through the MS thesaurus in an attempt to find more impressive words. Also, why exactly does the 'Cat got ya tongue'? A decent start for a promising reviewer
  • tina on July 1, 2004
    i don't think iconoclastic is the word you're looking for...
  • Ekta on July 17, 2004
    nice review, and personally I like the headline.. it's interesting that you didn't like the movie, because I know you've always loved the comic books.

    I miss Garfield.. And Jon always worked better when he was pathetic and stuck-up
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