The Garfield Movie (2024)

The latest iteration of the seemingly immortal Garfield franchise seems to work less in favor of retelling the classic story of Garfield and more in building a cinematic universe–apparently. Bafflingly, the producers seem to think there’s some merit in building this big world for Jim Davis’ Garfield. While Garfield does have a gallery of characters in his world, I never really thought of his franchise as being this sprawling world with side characters, and spin offs, and one off adventures. I doubt anyone wants a Nermal comedy, or Odie adventure. “The Garfield Movie” misses the key ingredient of what makes this series so beloved, which is Jon Arbuckle.

Although he is in the movie, he only has a small hand full of appearances in the narrative, and is completely ignored for a long duration of the film. “The Garfield Movie” instead transforms in to another lazy iteration of “What animals do when we’re not looking.” The whole heart and soul of the Garfield series it the interplay between Jon and Garfield and the writers completely ignore that key element. It’s disappointing considering the whole movie’s point is that Garfield is an apparently abandoned kitten who is discovered by Jon at an Italian restaurant. There, the pair discover one another and Garfield discovers his love for lasagna.

After adopting him and then Odie, the trio live their lives as they do in the comics, but one day Garfield gets back in touch with his long lost father Vic (Samuel L. Jackson). Vic has a scheme in hand for his estranged son and Odie, both of whom are roped in by a masterminded cat named Jinx. It’s all painfully dull and old hat and never offers anything interesting for the modern audience. Rather than telling an interesting and funny story about Jon and his two pets, and living with them day in and day out, “The Garfield Movie” just pushes all potential for comedy in to the background in favor of broader physical humor that’s easier to market for younger fans.

One of the best aspects of the series is the sharp wit and great interplay between Jon and Garfield, and all of that is just rendered completely unimportant. Jon barely gets a sub-plot to work with, which makes the casting of star Nicholas Hoult completely baffling. As for baffling Chris Pratt never quite rises to the occasion to fill the big shoes left behind by Lorenzo Music, but he’s good for name appeal, I guess. “The Garfield Movie” is a lackluster, downright lazy iteration, one that tries to be anything but itself.