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‘Garfield Movie’ delivers a fresh take on beloved character

by rajtamil
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If you catch the latest Garfield movie, you might not expect to find the famous orange feline at one point running from bad guys on the top of a speeding train. Lasagna eating? Sure. But any sort of cardio? Then prepare for “The Garfield Movie,” a curious new animated attempt to monetize the comic icon again by giving him an origin story and then asking him to do things a galaxy away from what he does in the funny pages. It’s like if Snoopy ran an underground bare-knuckle fight club. Chris Pratt voices the Monday-hating, self-centered hero and Samuel L. Jackson animates his long-lost father, who abandoned Garfield in an alley one rainy night, leading to lifelong trauma. That may explain his endless appetite, to fill the void of parental neglect.

What does “The Garfield Movie” say about that idea? Are you kidding? “The Garfield Movie,” directed by Mark Dindal, reunites Garfield and his not-so-savory dad – there’s no mention of a mom and there are shades of the plots from “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “Chicken Run” – as he gets caught up in a criminal plot to raid a corporate dairy and steal thousands of gallons of milk. Sorry, what was that? Garfield is perhaps the most indoor cat in history and seeing him dodge massive chopping blades or boulders onscreen is just plain weird. Making it even weirder is that his partner Odie – traditionally a drooling idiot – is remade here as highly competent, perhaps even a savant. This is not canon.

The movie gets mildly amusing as it recreates the kind of ventcrawling, security guard-avoiding heist in the dairy along to the theme from “Mission: Impossible” and that’s largely because the gang is being directed by a bull voiced by Ving Rhames, a veteran of that franchise. There are also nods to “Top Gun”: I do my own stunts,” Garfield says. “Me and Tom Cruise.” The script – by Paul A. Kaplan, Mark Torgove and David Reynolds – grounds the movie firmly in today, with Garfield using food delivery phone apps and Bluetooth, watching Catfl ix and characters declaring that they are “self-actualized.” There’s also some pretty awkward product placement, like for Olive Garden, that may not send the message they wanted. This is the part when we talk about food abuse. Garfield has a bit of a problem on this front, and the filmmakers more than lean into it. Thousands of pounds of junk food get inhaled by the tabby, but not salad. Heaven is described as an “all-you-can-eat buffet in the sky” and cheese is Garfield’s “love language.” It’s the laziest kind of writing.

There’s a mini “Ted Lasso” reunion when Hannah Waddingham (playing a psychotic gang leader) and Brett Goldstein (as her henchman) appear, while Snoop Dogg has a cameo as the voice of a one-eyed cat and offers a song that runs over the credits. The animation is pretty great – the backgrounds, at least. Ladders show rust and forests are lush, but then the main characters are a step or two less realized, more cartoonish. Jim Davis, who created Garfield, is an executive producer so he must be OK with all of this, a forgettable, unfunny animated slog. At one point, Garfield says “Bury me in cheese” and that seems a fitting final resting place for this cat’s film career. “The Garfield Movie,” a Columbia Pictures release that opens in movie theaters Friday, is rated PG for “mild thematic elements, action and peril.” Running time: 101 minutes. One and a half stars out of four. By Mark Kennedy

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