The Garfield Movie: Fun For The Family

Garfield - voice by Chris Pratt © 2023 Project G Productions, LLC
Garfield - voice by Chris Pratt © 2023 Project G Productions, LLC /

It’s been forty-five years since the first Garfield comic strip was released, and the beloved orange cat is still as popular as ever. Throughout the decades, there have been many films and television series based on the character, who even inspired his very own video games. 

Mark Dindal’s The Garfield Movie is the latest film devoted to the tabby and uncovers Garfield’s (Chris Pratt) backstory. After being left in an alleyway as a kitten, the feline finds his forever home and becomes Jon’s (Nicholas Hoult) pet. After a series of events leads Garfield to be reunited with his estranged father, Vic (Samuel L. Jackson), unexpectedly, the two are forced to partake in a heist.

Though I can understand why this film won’t work for many adults who grew up reading Garfield comic strips, The Garfield Movie still has plenty of entertaining moments. There are jokes sprinkled throughout the narrative, some of which only older audience members will understand and appreciate. While not every attempt at humor works, when the comedic moments land, they'll be sure to make you laugh. 

There are many pop culture references that viewers will recognize, including a nod to Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible stunts and the personality of determined animal officer Marge (Cecily Strong). Her distinctive Minnesota accent mirrors that of a character from a Coen Brothers 1996 cult classic. Yes, it really is that one! 

At times, The Garfield Movie juggles too many concepts to appeal to viewers of all generations and tick off every box. After all, this film will draw in audience members of many ages. Though the film's heart is in the right place, its desire to appease the masses results in random one-liners, and some characters are even glossed over. Take, for example, Jon. He is such a prominent figure in the comic strips, yet in The Garfield Movie, his screen time is much less significant, which may disappoint some fans.

Though this seems like an odd choice, it’s clear that Dindal’s animated feature is more focused on exploring Garfield's heist adventure with Odie (Harvey Guillén) by his side and, more importantly, the relationship with his father, Vic. The bond that is created between the pair over the runtime is moving, comedic, and the film’s strong suit.

The cast's voice acting is effective, particularly Pratt and Jackson, who complement one another. They flawlessly switch Garfield and Vic from back-and-forth bickering to believable, sincere, father-and-son moments. The eventual connection formed between the two characters is the heart of the film. Even when the narrative temporarily loses its way, Garfield and Vic’s scenes make up for it.  Another standout is Hannah Waddingham, who voices the villainous Jinx. She brings a great deal of sass and personality to the character, which is reflected skillfully through the formidable feline’s wicked streak.

The film is equipped with vibrant animation, engaging visual storytelling, and smooth movements of each character, particularly when the heist is underway. Certain scenes can drag on a bit, but it isn’t long before another joke or over-the-top action sequence arrives and reels you back in.

When gauging the audience's reaction during my screening, both adults and children were immersed in the experience and appeared to enjoy the film. Many laughs were heard throughout the feature’s runtime, and once the credits rolled, there was even a round of applause.

The Garfield Movie isn’t revolutionary or unique, but it's a simplistic, fun story that achieves what it set out to do: entertain.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Garfield Movie is hitting theaters on May 24th, 2024.