“The Garfield Movie:” Laughs Love Lasagna

in Entertainment by

*Written by staffer Olivia Chung*

Adored by fans around the globe, Garfield, the lasagna-loving feline, is back in an all-new animated feature film. Since the comic’s debut in 1978, the cat with the sarcastic personality and quick-wit has been the subject of countless hand-drawn comic strips, one animated series, several live action movies and, now, an animated movie. 

Released May 24, “The Garfield Movie” tells a lively, heartwarming story exploring the relationship between Garfield and his long-lost father, Vic. The film begins with a flashback, introducing how Garfield met his owner, John, before jumping to the present-day. After an unexpected reunion with his father, Garfield, along with his sidekick, Odie, are forced to complete a risky heist in order to save Vic. With an easy to follow plot clearly designed with a family audience in mind, the movie’s combination of lighthearted, fun characters and easily recognizable themes made for an enjoyable viewing experience. Themes explored messages including how ‘family relationships can be complicated’ and that ‘there are always two sides  to a story.’ The movie was well thought-out and would be clearly entertaining for the intended audience of children ages five to nine.

I had various reactions to different aspects of the new Garfield movie. From a critical standpoint, there was a great deal to unpack including the animation style, overall Garfield character and voice actors’ presentations.

The Pros

By far the best part of this movie was its animation. Staying true to the rounded, bubble-like style of the original Garfield panels, the animation itself was authentic. Characters looked like they had simply popped off Davis’s storyboard page and jumped into the movie. Animators even managed to capture Garfield’s signature poses and facial expressions consistently throughout the movie.

In addition, light-hearted humor, simple character development and kid-friendly action-adventure scenes were suitable for the target audience. As I watched this movie on Father’s Day with my dad, who is a big Garfield fan, I thought that it was fit for the occasion as the development of Vic and Garfield’s father-son relationship was the driving force of the film. 

As a lifelong Garfield fan, I appreciated the subtle (and not-so subtle) references to certain characters, settings, and scenes found in the original comic strips (like Odie’s harmonica and Pookie). In particular, I was delighted to see the spider, which appears in many comic books, be featured in the exact same drawing style for a whole scene. However, my past experiences with Garfield comics, series and movies led me to have some expectations that I felt were not met in this family movie.

The Cons

Although an entertaining movie, I found that the film lacked one crucial element—Garfield, or, more specifically, his characteristic head-turning personality. In creating this movie, the writers seemingly lost the essence of Garfield’s cynicism, making the overall humor feel diluted. Thinking of the film’s marketed audience, this makes sense. However, I had been anticipating quick-wit and snappy comebacks and what I got was mediocre banter.

With the film introducing various new characters, I felt that major characters from the strips, such as John (Garfield’s owner) and Liz (Garfield’s vet) were sacrificed for the sake of creating a semi-interesting plot. In particular, a dramatic alteration in one character left me especially surprised. Odie, a loveable dim-witted canine in the comics, became a brilliant sidekick, completely changing the dynamic of the two pets’ relationship. Within the strips, the tension between Odie and Garfield created a fun source of conflict and humor. The change in the movie left me stunned.

On a more subtle note, I thought the voice actors for both Vic and Garfield did not suit the characters they were intended to play. Samuel L. Jackson’s and Chris Pratt’s voices both independently and combined did not make for believable characters or a father-son dynamic. Chris Pratt’s voice lacked the essence of the Garfield persona, presenting the tabby in a more lively manner when, in the past, the character has been presented as a flat, lethargic, depressed and non-committal cat.

Overall, “The Garfield Movie” was suitable for its intended audience. It was laughable and had an easy-to-follow plot, making for light comedy. As a life-long fan of the Garfield franchise, however, to me, the film lacked some key elements I was looking forward to seeing on the big screen. Garfield, at large, was not Garfield. 

With the target audience in mind, I would rate this movie a 9/10. However, from my perspective, I would rate this movie a 6.8/10.

Having created comics, movies, figurines, movies and even a board game, the Garfield franchise has proven time and time again to be extremely successful. (Photo/Olivia Chung)