A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Garfield is a 2004 live-action comedy in which Bill Murray plays the legendary comic book cat. Perhaps the biggest concern is the ridiculous amount of product placement in the movie. At least eight different products are either mentioned by name by the characters, or the products are gratuitously placed in the scenes or, in the case of Wendy's, a commercial for the product is shown on Jon's television. There some cartoonish pratfall violence. Garfield inadvertently sets off elaborate chain reactions leading to shelves and furniture falling over and getting destroyed. While locked up by Animal Control, a despondent Garfield yells to the guards, asking for shoelaces -- presumably to hang himself. A shock collar is used on pets as well as a human, causing them to flip backward and fall. Some name-calling like "butt" and "idiot."
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 unhappy Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky), who plans to make him perform on television, and Garfield goes to the rescue.
Is it any good?
None of the plot makes much sense or captures our interest, but there are some pleasantly silly moments along the way. In order to turn a three-panel comic not specifically directed at children into a feature film, the people behind this movie 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.
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 air ducts 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.
Talk to your kids 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.
How was the movie similar to the comic strip, and where did the movie have its own style?
Why are talking-animal movies so popular? What do you like about them?
For kids who love animals
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