The Garfield Movie : Movie Review

Posted by Eddie Pasa on May 23, 2024 in / No Comments

 

Rated PG by the MPA for action/peril and thematic elements. Includes a post-credits stinger, but stick around to hear Hannah Waddingham sing! Running time: 101 minutes. Released by Sony Pictures Releasing and Columbia Pictures.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Sony Pictures Releasing, Columbia Pictures, The Garfield Movie, GarfieldLook. I grew up on the Garfield comic strip, as my parents were Washington Post subscribers when I was a kid. My oldest sister had a scrapbook filled with early Garfield strips, back when he was a little more svelte, not the rotund, jovial character everyone knew from the mid-‘80s onward. My parents bought me all the Garfield one-off books they could find on the Crown Books shelves. I loved the half-hour specials in which he was voiced by Lorenzo Music. So when I say that The Garfield Movie is just Garfield (Chris Pratt) shoved into a predictable, by-the-numbers “long-lost relative” plot, at least you know that it’s not without a high regard for the character itself.

It’s cute enough for a rainy Saturday afternoon viewing, and the voice cast does well with what they’re given, but the script by Paul A. Kaplan, Mark Torgove, and David Reynolds falls back on so many tried-and-true kids’ film chestnuts, it doesn’t have any differentiating qualities. Except, of course, Garfield’s legendary eating habits and his general lackadaisical lazing about. But even the latter doesn’t really come into play as he’s swept into a world of crime by his ne’er-do-well father, Vic (Samuel L. Jackson), who abandoned him and left the door open for Jon Arbuckle (Nicholas Hoult) to be his guardian.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Sony Pictures Releasing, Columbia Pictures, The Garfield Movie, GarfieldYup, it’s that old standby – a family member comes back after years of estrangement and needs a favor. Holding Vic’s feet to the fire is his old criminal running buddy, the mood necklace-wearing Jinx (Hannah Waddingham), who needs Vic for one big heist and assures him of his freedom after it’s done. Complete with disastrous training at the hands of Otto (Ving Rhames), a bull with emotional ties to this looming job, Garfield and Vic – with Odie (Harvey Guillén) playing the role of what Jacob Batalon’s Ned from the MCU’s Spider-Man films would call “the guy in the chair” – have to steal a dairy truck full of milk for Jinx and her two subordinates, while Jinx has designs for some serious payback.

Of course, there’s serious payback, and of course, the heist isn’t going to go the way they planned. Filled with the requisite getting-to-know-you-again motions and family bickering, The Garfield Movie is exactly what you’d expect it to be. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. This isn’t as clever as Jon, Garfield, and Odie meeting a cargo cult in the outlands of Paradise World; this is just another case of “bring in the forgotten family member and make them look bad before making them look good.” It’s something we’ve seen a billion times before, and it adds nothing to children’s films as we know it.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Sony Pictures Releasing, Columbia Pictures, The Garfield Movie, GarfieldThe cast might be the only thing keeping this film reaching the bottom of the cut-out DVD bins. For all this film’s shortcomings, the cast is stocked with Marvel and “Ted Lasso” actors that exude a brio capable of picking us up and bringing us where the film needs to go, even if it’s completely predictable. There’s no escaping the charms of Chris Pratt and Samuel L. Jackson bouncing off each other and creating merry havoc as they get put through their paces preparing for the heist. While they both try to ratchet up preordained emotional stirrings, they’re better when they’re working together and yelling at each other while trying to navigate the impregnable dairy farm or giving each other instructions as the big, catastrophic battle rages. (Of course, there’s going to be a big, catastrophic battle.)

But Hannah Waddingham – what a year she’s having, especially after her turn in The Fall Guy – slides in to steal the movie with what limited screen time Jinx has. As Vic’s spurned crime partner, Waddingham practically oozes the slippery villain part with every word she utters, as she has a magnetic way of making us hang on her slithery delivery as she revels in playing the role to its fullest. There’s something – I don’t know, an electricity or unabashed freedom that comes with committing to a voice performance – Waddingham gives to this movie that elevates what could have possibly been a one-note character and takes it to being unforgettable.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Sony Pictures Releasing, Columbia Pictures, The Garfield Movie, GarfieldThe Garfield Movie isn’t some grand revelation or a cinematic coup. It’s another flick that’ll keep kids busy for an hour and a half while you get the dishes done and the laundry folded. There’s enough humor and meta-references for longtime fans to have fun with, and the morals are fairly sound. After all, reconciliation with one’s father after being absent in each other’s life for so long can’t be too bad, can it? Even though the script’s trappings are rote, there’s more than enough visual and aural razzle-dazzle to make it worth a watch. The Garfield Movie may not be anything new, but the voice cast and its emotional leanings put a little heart into an otherwise nondescript children’s film.

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Eddie Pasa

Eddie is a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Since starting in 2010 at The Rogers Revue, Eddie has written for Reel Film News (now defunct), co-founded DC Filmdom, and writes occasionally for Gunaxin. When not reviewing movies, he's spending time with his wife and children, repeat-viewing favorites on 4k or Blu-Ray, working for rebranding agency Mekanic, or playing acoustic shows and DJing across the DC/MD/VA area. Special thanks go to Jenn Carlson, Moira and Ari Pasa, Viki Nova at City Dock Digital in Annapolis, Mike Parsons, Philip Van Der Vossen, and Dean Rogers.

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