by David Cornelius
There has been some fuss over the laziness behind “Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties,” the sequel to the inexplicably popular movie adaptation of the inexplicably long-running Jim Davis comic strip. This fuss suggests a hope for the “Garfield” franchise, a belief that one of these movies could indeed display a spark of imagination or cleverness, and that, dear reader, reveals a far greater hope in humanity than I could ever reach myself.Indeed, the only surprise about this sequel is that it’s not worse than it is. This is a miserable kiddie flick, but really, it’s no worse off than its predecessor, which was depressing but not too obnoxious in its badness. I suppose the good people at Twentieth Century Fox should be commended for ensuring that “A Tail of Two Kitties” is only mostly horrendous.
"Because a Marmaduke movie would've been too smart."
For this second outing, we find Garfield the cat, Odie the dog, and Jon the idiot human traveling to London. We know it’s London because we get all the obligatory shots of Big Ben and the Thames while the Dave Clark Five plays on the soundtrack. And because that’s not trite enough, we also get a scene involving a palace guard being unresponsive to Garfield’s taunts (although Odie does wind up peeing on the guard, a high point in a movie where most of the gags involve Garfield farting, usually into someone’s face). The idea, I suppose, is to aim its flat, hackneyed London-centric humor at grade schoolers not yet old enough to realize it’s flat and hackneyed.
Anyway. Jon (played again by Breckin Meyer, whose downward career spiral has hit such a point that “Inside Schwartz” is starting to look like a high point) has come to London to propose to veterinarian girlfriend Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt - hey, eyes up here, pal), which Garfield wants to stop because… um… he’s jealous or… um… something… yeah, well, he’s in London now.
Meanwhile, a cat named Prince has just inherited a castle and all its riches from what we can only assume was the world’s most insane woman. The woman’s nephew (Billy Connolly) will get the estate only after Prince dies, so you can see where this is going. And Prince just happens to look exactly like Garfield, meaning the two are bound to be mistake for each other, hilarity, or at least fart jokes, ensuing.
As with the first movie, all animals here are real except for Garfield and his double, who are freakish CGI creations looking just real enough to pass a “yeah, that’ll do, I suppose” test. Garfield’s visual presence is slightly unsettling; he’s there but never quite there, real but so very not real. And so having two of them in one picture is doubly unpleasant.
Surprisingly, Bill Murray, who sounded downright embarrassed with the role the first time out, has returned to voice Garfield for this sequel. Again he sounds bored, upset, and unhappy with the dialogue (which again consists almost entirely of bad puns, useless pop culture references, and lasagna-themed one-liners, although we’re also granted a notably horrid performance of “Cat Scratch Fever” as well as a hopeless parody of the “Jeffersons” theme song). Here’s a guy who declined to appear in the “Charlie’s Angels” follow-up due to its horribleness, yet agrees to pop up here? Huh.
Also embarrassing themselves, we get a parade of British talent who should really know better. Connolly does his best while slumming in the villain’s role, but not even his comic genius can rescue a series of poorly-executed slapstick routines. Bob Hoskins, Jane Horrocks, Richard E. Grant, Rhys Ifans, Sharon Osbourne, and Jane Leeves are among those supplying voices for the talkative farm animals that populate the castle’s grounds (thus turning “A Tail of Two Kitties” into a sluggish “Babe” knock-off). Tim Curry is the voice of Prince, once again proving that yes, he will in fact agree to be in anything if you just ask nicely.
Just like the first movie, “A Tail of Two Kitties” sticks all too closely to the kiddie movie playbook, refusing to stray from formula, so much so that Garfield - world famous for his selfishness - even learns his lesson and agrees not to be selfish, just so it can best serve kid flick cliché. Screenwriters Joel Cohen and Alex Sokolow (also responsible for the original “Garfield,” plus the dreary “Cheaper By the Dozen” remake) once again assume a set of fart gags and shots of people falling over can take the place of actual storytelling or joke writing.Ah, but it’s a “Garfield” sequel. You were expecting something good?
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originally posted: 10/07/06 17:54:17