Garfield is Fatty Arbuckle
I've always liked reading the Garfield shorts that features in newspapers; the sarcastic wit of the fat feline with attitude is usually clever but most importantly funny. But when it comes to "Garfield" the movie the cleverness and amusement from these short cartoons is lost as it becomes drawn out and repetitive. The reason being that the humour of Garfield is better suited to short bursts but also the movie suffers from not having enough material, such as a storyline to make it interesting for its entire 82 minute duration.
When Garfield's owner Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer - Road Trip) decides to adopt a dog named Odie, the feline fur ball becomes extremely jealous as he is no longer the centre of Jon's world. Eager to regain his rank in the Arbuckle household his manipulative behaviour causes Odie to run away and fall into the hands of TV presenter Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky - The Glimmer Man). When guilt gets the better of Garfield he heads on a rescue mission to the big city to rescue Odie from his dog-napper.
The biggest problem when it comes to "Garfield" is that it doesn't really feature a proper or interesting storyline. The movie starts off by introducing us to the main characters which all feels a little rushed as we get a dose of Garfield's laid back attitude and his sarcasm as we meet his owner Jon and his other animal friends including the object of his jealousy Odie. I suppose this intro works for those who have never seen a Garfield comic strip before but never really captures the magic of Garfield for those who have followed his regular antics.
But having dispatched with the introductions "Garfield" then gets lost as we have a sort of storyline about Odie being kidnapped and Garfield's guilt ridden mission to rescue him. In all honesty the storyline is not important and could have been about Aliens as the movie's sole purpose is to entertain through Garfield's antics and his acerbic tongue. The trouble is long before the movie comes to an end the feline fun becomes annoyingly repetitive and not enough to keep your attention. It is clearly a case that "Garfield" suffers because it tries to build a movie around a character best suited to short bursts rather than an entire movie.
There is also the big issue over the decision to just computerize Garfield and none of his other animal friends. Now although at times the CGI creation of Garfield was a bit clumsy the fact it allowed him to move in various humorous ways and pull of those facial expressions which make you laugh was a good idea. The fact that they did not CGI the likes of Odie and his other animal pals was a mistake as part of the joy of the Garfield cartoons is the facial expressions of the other animals and using manipulated footage of actual animals makes it all look very cheap and causes an uneven balance between characters.
What basically saves "Garfield" from being a very bad movie is the voicing of Bill Murray as the fat cat. Murray who has made a career out of his sarcastic quips brings the CGI creation to life and just through his delivery manages to make the most inane quip sound funny. It's just a shame the rest of the movie couldn't match Murray for being funny and entertaining.
As for the real life actors well Breckin Meyer as Jon Arbuckle and Jennifer Love Hewitt as love interest Liz are flatter than any cartoon character. Not only are the characters unbelievably poor and underdeveloped but the performances are laughably poor. Is this Love Hewitt and Meyer's fault I don't think so but firmly point the finger at director Peter Hewitt who has tried to make a movie which focuses purely on the comic capers of a cartoon cat and little else, meaning the performances of the actors which could have given the movie a more realistic touch are demoted to back ground noise.
What this all boils down to is that "Garfield" is a prime example as to why some popular cartoon characters are best left just as that, allowing them to entertain in short bursts rather than trying to manipulate their brand into a full length movie. "Garfield" ends up being more annoying than entertaining and it's only thanks to the voice work of Bill Murray that stops this from being an all round bad movie. Though saying that I am sure that for children, probably under the age of 8, this will be good fun, it's just a shame it doesn't have the same appeal for an adult audience.