What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that for anyone over age 12, this is a 2 star movie. It may be painful viewing for you, but know that it's only 80 minutes, and it will make your kids really happy. The movie has some comic violence, including a shock collar used on both a dog and a human. No one of either species is seriously harmed. There is some PG-style crude language ("butt," "blow chunks," "suck-up") and brief vulgar humor. There is also some intrusive product placement for Wendy's, though the product that makes the greatest impression is the lasagna.
What's the story?
Based on Jim Davis' comic strip about a big, orange, lazy glutton of a cat, this live-action movie follows the adventures of Garfield (voice by Bill Murray), a "so much time and so little to do" cat who cares for nothing but food (especially lasagna), attention, and being in charge. Life feels pretty good for him until pretty veterinarian Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) persuades Jon (Breckin Meyer) to adopt a dog named Odie. Garfield experiences severe sibling rivalry, especially when his efforts to control Odie backfire. Then Odie is taken by an ambitious animal trainer, the decidedly un-happy Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky), who plans to make him perform on television, and Garfield goes to the rescue.
Is it any good?
In order to turn a three-panel comic not specifically directed at children into a feature film, the people behind this movie have tried to have it both ways. Garfield begins as the unabashedly self-centered, wisecracking character from the comic strip, but then somehow transforms into a loyal friend who is willing to take big risks to save the dog he once considered a rival. None of this makes much sense or captures our interest. But there are some pleasantly silly moments along the way.
Like the comic strip, the human characters are bland and barely visible. The stars here are the animals, real with some special effects enhancement except for the all-CGI Garfield. Highlights include a dance-off between Garfield and Odie to a Black-Eyed Peas song, a wild ride through airducts and stairs as Garfield tries to find Odie, and some just-to-keep-the-parents-awake references to Jerry Maguire, Apocalypse Now, Elvis, Billy Joel, and even Shakespeare's Henry V.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why Garfield was jealous of Odie and Happy was jealous of his brother, and why it was so hard for Jon and Liz to tell each other how they felt.