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GARFIELD (article first published : 2004-10-7)

It doesnít say much for Garfield, the screen reinvention of Jim Davis's famous comic strip fat cat - a lazy and sarcastic lasagna-lover with appetite and attitude - that the most memorable thing about it is the animated short which precedes it.

The cartoon features Scrat, the Ice Age chipmunk-thingie, in a delightful romp called Gone Nutty and it offers a lot of smiles.

Garfield, on the other hand, is far less satisfying, being laden with bland direction by Pete Hewitt, who gave us The Borrowers, and featuring a surpisingly ho-hum script from screenwriters Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, who were so witty and clever with Toy Story.

But the biggest let-down is that the orange feline of the title has been created with computer animation while very other cat, dog and rodent in the movie is real. Most odd, indeed.

The story is a very simple one - Garfield, who speaks with the voice of Bill Murray, spends his time ridiculing his owner, Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer), waiting for his next meal and watching television. Then, when Jon adopts cute dog Odie while trying to woo a longtime pal and vet, Liz (the wooden Jennifer Love Hewitt), Garfield sets out to make the adorable hound's life a misery.

But the cat's conscience strikes when the pup is kidnapped by Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky), a local TV personality who wants to incorporate the clever canine into his act. And it isnít long before Garfield is out trying to rescue the mutt, with Jon and Liz in hot pursuit.

There are certainly some fun moments in the film and some good one-liners, but it tends to overstay its welcome and continually lacks oomph. 5/10 - Billy Suter




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