L Movie Review 2Animated movies can either be wonderful works of art or obnoxious cash grabs intended to capture the short attention spans of children. Sometimes you’ll get a profoundly resonant Pixar movie like the nuanced Incredibles or a poetically resplendent Ghibli movie (like the lyrical Ponyo), but too often you get The Garfield Movie, a hectic animation that gives you the feeling of a queasy sugar rush. 

Starring Chris Pratt as the voice of the talking cat, Garfield is the latest adaptation of Jim Davis’s comics, and it’s far from purrfect. No one is expecting Ghibli when they walk into Garfield, but they are anticipating a certain brand of reserved wit. It’s hard to imagine what the writers were thinking when they decided to morph a cat who eats lasagna, mutters jokes, and does nothing all day into a super spy, the equivalent of turning Charlie Brown into Liam Neeson. Did they not remember what made Davis’s comics so effective? What happened to the lazy, sarcastic lard who hates Mondays? Now he’s jumping off trains like he’s an action hero.

Fans are likely going to be scratching their heads when, after a greatest hits montage of Garfield shoveling food and napping on the couch, he gets kidnapped in a chaotically edited action sequence. What next? Garfield embarking on a heist? Yep. Garfield and his pals are snatched by gangsters associated with Garfield’s father (Samuel L. Jackson), who abandoned him on the streets as a child. Now he and pops are robbing dairy farms, which gives the writers an excuse to milk jokes about espionage, comparing Garfield to Tom Cruise as he climbs through vents and hangs from ceilings. Garfield is the key to everyone completing this mission, somehow, an attempt to create an entirely new image of Garfield for younger audiences, phone-addicted children who constantly need to be stimulated by action and know nothing about the tone of Davis’s comics.

Written by Paul Kaplan, Mark Torgove, and David Reynolds, and directed by Mark Dindal, the result is extremely overwhelming, sporadically moving from place to place before you can settle into a single setting, which is what you expect from the director of Chicken Little. At 95 minutes, it’s basically just a bunch of childish vignettes strung together by spy movie tropes. As Garfield gets mixed up with a menagerie of thugs, including some bullish henchman, a bull who tries to rescue his wife, and a kitten who orchestrates the entire operation, you’ll likely be panting as you try to keep up with everyone on screen, which isn’t very Garfield of the filmmakers.

The film does have some amusing gags, like when Garfield realizes he’s been wearing dog tags under his fur, and the rudimentary animation does offer occasional delights — some of the background elements are eye-popping. The use of orange colors, in particular, is a nice dollop. But unfortunately, this bright, bonkers movie overstays its welcome, and it’s exactly the kind of hyperactive drivel that’s derailing the genre. That may be fine for young viewers, but it’s going to be a headache for sentient adults. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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