Flat, short and about as pleasant as a furball, “Garfield” is one sick putty-tat. In many ways it’s surprising that the famed and admittedly fun comic strip character took this long to be adapted into a film, what’s more surprising is that the studio greenlit it with such a shockingly woeful script.
“Garfield” itself ran on a small handful of jokes which in the context of the strip were funny, but onscreen all the gags about lasagna and dog hatred fall flat as a tack both amongst children unfamiliar with the material and adults who’d stop reading if the strip ever became this limp.
More shocking is the casting of Bill Murray as Garfield’s voice, not for having him there (he is an inspired choice for the role) but giving him such shoddy material and live actors to work with.
Murray is stuck with tired retreaded cliches and lines from other films (not to mention all too many “Toy Story” story element ripoffs) along with the usual groan inducers which he doesn’t care about – in other words the paycheck must’ve been good. Not helping the fact is that both Meyer and Hewitt, two young stars from the Freddie Prinze Jr. school of celebrity (ie. flat acting and nearly extinct public profiles) have neither chemistry nor vaguely compelling characters.
So is there anything redeemable? The CG cat admittedly is well done, a scene involving the dog and cat pushing each other on and off a chair whilst Garfield tries to dance is an impressive combination of live action and computer elements. The design of Garfield himself is pretty cool and admittedly there’s only a few moments in this when you remember the creature isn’t actually there.
There’s the odd laugh too, mostly from hearing Murray more than anything else. That’s about it though. Otherwise this is an embarassing family film – a genre in recent years which has become a hit again thanks to the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks who know how to do comedies with both laughs and smarts.