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By Peter Lowry | June 14, 2004

Based on the popular comic/cartoon that was at the peak of its popularity in the 80s, everyone’s favorite fat cat finally made his grand appearance on the silver screen. Jim Davis’ big orange feline has never looked better, and helmed with the great voice of Bill Murray; he’s never sounded better either. Clearly a movie that is targeted at children and those who are fans of the strip, the film delivers basically more or less what people were expecting to see from a movie like this. It has good laughs, decent writing and is 100% loyal to both the comic and the cartoon, which will leave the diehard fans begging for more. With a decent cast that doesn’t distract you from the main attraction, it was a film that was fun for the whole family and worth checking out if you were a fan of the old cartoon.  

To me, the Garfield movie seems to take more of its influence from the cartoon of the late 80s more than the actual comic strip. I remember watching those cartoons when I was younger, and got a laugh out of them and the great voice that we all remembered coming out of the animated fat cat, which was provided by the late Lorenzo Music. This time out, our favorite cat is given the comic talents of Bill Murray and the combination works, creating a Garfield that fits well onto the big screen. Murray’s voice is as close to a perfect fit you were going to find without Music around to help out. Murray helps find that right balance that is needed to give the cat with the ultimate personality the tones needed to express each emotion perfectly. And when the cat is done well, the rest of the film falls into place and works.  

The rest of the cast wasn’t as impressive, but were enough to compliment the real star of the film. Last seen in the recently cancelled sitcom “Married to the Kellys”, Breckin Meyer does all right as Jon, Garfield’s loveable and shy owner. Meyer did well as the dim, yet heart on his sleeve kind of character, and was a rather good zag to Garfield’s zig. Jennifer Love Hewitt was also decent as Jon’s love interest. While a few hundred pounds lighter than the usual women Jon usually dated in the comic, it was a story line that I was happy to see written out, as it would have been nothing more than a politically incorrect distraction.  

The other animals are not animated like Garfield, but after watching the movie I felt that animating all the animals would have been too distracting. Using real animals to do the rest of the characters was definitely the right way to go, because it would have been straying into overkill territory, and Odie seemed to work much better without that huge tongue getting in the way.

What I liked the most about this movie was its pace. They didn’t try to do too much with the time they had and took the film one scene at a time and paced themselves for the entire ninety minutes. It stuck close to its story and didn’t try to be too cute and stuck to its material, which was pretty good for this kind of film. It was nice to see a good portion of the jokes were verbal and not just all slapstick that many other comedies have been resorting to in order to get cheap laughs. 

Overall, Garfield’s first movie might not be as amusing as the cartoon but it was still a lot of fun to watch. Much better than the other current animated movies in release, the fat cat proves that it takes more than just good voiceovers to make a decent film. The story, while simple, was cute and worked for the kind of audience they were gunning for. The jokes were clean and far from the gutter, making it a movie that will be fun for the entire family. I actually think the film is very loyal to the material it’s based on and think that fans of the comic/cartoon will have fun with it as well. One of the better comedies to come out this year and worth seeing if you’re in the mood for something different than the usual slate of summer action films.  

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  1. Stephen says:

    I hope you were being Ironic saying it was 100% to the comic, 100% ya know, except the whole Odie looking like a real dog, and being talented and super smart. And Jon having romantic luck.

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