Garfield: The Movie

Garfield: The Movie (2004)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Bill Murray

After decades of newspaper comic strips, an animated television series and loads of merchandise, America’s favorite fat and lazy orange cat has finally been brought to the big screen. "Garfield The Movie" is here and unfortunately I would of felt better if he stayed away. For those who have read the comic throughout the years, you’ll already be very familiar with the many characters creator Jon Davis brought to life every day. We have Garfield, his loveable owner Jon (Breckin Meyer), their newly adopted dog Odie and the very beautiful and sweet veterinarian, Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt).

The story begins with Garfield doing what he loves best. Besides hating Mondays, Garfield is living the life. He has complete control of the house and the small cul-de-sac that is his neighborhood. He torments the local dog, and with the help of his dopey sidekick buddy, Nermal, they even have ways of stealing milk from the local milkman without leaving the confines of their safe yard. Life is good until Jon agrees to bring home an adopted pup named Odie. Now Garfield’s world is turned upside down as Odie proceeds to win over the heart of Jon. When Garfield kicks Odie out one night, the small dog goes missing and it’s up to Garfield to rescue him from a crazed dog trainer.

Before even sitting down and watching the film I had a negative response to the film. When the first trailer was shown earlier this year, I wasn’t thrilled with the way they portrayed Garfield. He looks great but this just doesn’t feel like the Jon Davis character I grew up with. Bill Murray does a decent job of voicing the loveable cat, but nowhere near as good as the late Lorenzo Music (the original voice of Garfield). Unfortunately in the translation, key characters have also been altered such as Nermal. No longer is "she" the super cute, annoying kitten that Garfield loved to torment, but now she’s a he and a full grown Siamese. Jon is no longer the bumbling idiot and loner he was in the book and Liz is immediately attracted to him instead of constantly turning down his lame come-ons. I also would have preferred if Odie, Nermal and Arlene were animated and designed like Garfield. Seeing them as live action animals with animated faces really didn’t blend well when Garfield shares the screen with them. And last but not least, the film isn’t funny at all.

Both a Full Screen and an <$16x9,Anamorphic> <$PS,Widescreen> version are selectable upon starting the film. The <$PS,widescreen> selection is presented in its original theatrical aspect 1.85:1. The overall look of the film has a soft feel to it. Garfield is detailed but even he looks soft which helps make him look more real and less digital. Colors are rich and come alive on screen. Again Garfield is a perfect example of this. The numerous shades of orange in his fur are distinctive and thankfully don’t bleed into each other. Most of the film takes place during the day and the various locations of the film also help to show off some natural looking colors. Flesh tones on both actors are natural and realistic. In one scene Jennifer is wearing a red dress and it’s easy to pick out the details in it. The film does have a little bit of compression noise though. Grain is present in only in small amounts and edge noise is kept at bay. A fine transfer from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment but once you read about the extra content on the disc you’ll know why.

The <$DD,Dolby Digital> mix on Garfield is actually quite nice. I really don’t care for the music in the film (in fact it’s awful) but not only is it spread nicely throughout the front soundstage but also in the rear. Because this is Garfield, the film has a lot of dialog. Almost non-stop which is important that they reproduce it naturally and realistically. Bill Murray is clear and always forward above everything else in the film. Most of what is played through the surrounds is filler but it does help open everything up. At the beginning of chapter 15 listen to the cricket’s and dog barking in the background. It’s subtle but effective. And as far as low frequencies go, you’ll be giving your subwoofer a break. There are only a few instances where bass is slightly present but overall there isn’t much.

This is actually the shortest write up regarding extra content that I’ve ever had. Fox obviously decided to offer nothing in the way of bonus material for the film and only tossed in their typical "Inside Look" film preview. The sneak preview of the upcoming "Robots" CGI film looks interesting. "Because of Winn-Dixie" looks like your typical made for television family film and is previewed also. Last is a music video by Baha Men. With so little material, the transfer of Garfield could have been better. They could have easily added a <$DTS,DTS> audio track. The weakest disc I’ve watched in ages.

"Garfield The Movie" is great for kids, but most adults won’t find anything interesting in the film. Laughably the best part is the very nice box sleeve that slips over the keep case. If you’re planning on buying this disc blindly, I suggest renting it first. Even my heart felt obsession with Jennifer Love isn’t enough to warrant a purchase.