'Mark Dindal' movie poster
'Mark Dindal' movie poster

'The Garfield Movie' review: Generic plot and lively animation serve up a moderately fun watch

However, the film still manages to win us over, leaving you with a warm cushy feeling that lingers even after you leave the cinema halls.

'The Garfield Movie' is a harmless, enjoyable ride. It is almost nostalgic for how it is reminiscent of the feeling we experienced when we watched television cartoons in the evening after school. We would be amused by the wacky adventures and goofy humour of these animated characters, so engrossed that we still wouldn’t have changed out of our school uniforms.

On such occasions, the adults who pass by might take a gander at the screen and find themselves chuckling, forgetting the broad notion that, “animation is for the children.” This is the kind of warm, comforting feeling that 'The Garfield Movie' goes for, and almost succeeds at. The film is old-school in its story treatment, the one-liners, and even in how there are animated characters chasing each other. However, the film still manages to win us over, leaving you with a warm cushy feeling that lingers even after you leave the cinema halls.

'The Garfield Movie' has the charm of the Toy Story franchise, in both the style of animation and the visual gags. The premise is familiar and straightforward, like a classic cartoon. The Monday-hating, Lasagna-loving, eponymous feline (Chris Pratt) has set out on an adventure with his father, Vic (Samuel L Jackson), and their pet, Odie (Harvey Guillen)-The house cat is out in the world! There are a number of possible ways the story could go from here, and the film takes almost all of these predictable routes.

However, the execution makes up for the predictability. Garfield’s famous fourth-wall-breaking is a refreshing touch, that helps the film stand above the classic cartoons it was trying to replicate. As the writing is so comfortable being generic, it ends up disconnecting the audience. It fails to strike any emotional resonance with the characters, The film also does not provide a satisfying arc to the characters. For instance, the antagonist, a female cat named Jinx (Hannah Waddingham), seems to have been added just for the sake of having an antagonist, as the plot couldn’t bring out a conflict that could fit well with the initial premise.

The stakes for characters like Roland (Brett Goldstein) and Nolan (Bowen Yang), who are Jinx’s henchmen, haven’t been clearly explained, so the villainy doesn’t come across effectively; it feels like it’s there just for the sake of it. However, it is not that the film limps entirely on the emotional aspect. The writing, despite being functional, has incorporated some effective moments. The scenes featuring Jon(Nicholas Hoult) and the pets and Garfield’s final interactions with the Vic are delightful to watch. These moments significantly contribute to the much-desired emotional impact that we were anticipating.

The one-liners and the humour work effectively. Characters like Bull, Otto (Ving Rhames) or the Animal Control officer, Marge (Cecily Strong), give the directionless plot a sense of purpose. The story becomes more predictable as new challenges are thrown at 'Garfield'. The feline will, of course, emerge victorious in the end. To rescue such a predictable scenario, animation comes into play. While not stellar, the animation still pulls our focus away from a dull screenplay. In one of his fourth-wall-breaking conversations, Garfield says, “Tom Cruise and I do our own stunts.” Chris Pratt and Samuel L Jackson have done a commendable job with their voice acting. However, it’s Hannah Waddingham’s portrayal of Jinx that stands out

Despite the flaccid screenplay and a familiar storyline, the voice-acting, the charming animation, and the nostalgic warmth with which the story is executed make sure that the film leaves a warm memory in our minds. Something we could hold on to, to keep our spirits high, as we get ready to face another Monday.

Director: Mark Dindal

Cast: Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Hannah Waddingham, Ving Rhames, Nicholas Hoult, Cecily Strong

Rating: 2.5/5

The New Indian Express