by William Goss
735 days. No one deserves to wait that long for a sequel to 'Garfield,' especially when no one wants it. However, like it or not, 'Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties' is here and manages to make its predecessor a tolerable prospect in comparison.Once more, a sequel settles for tossing its characters across an ocean and into a European country, so when Garfield (Bill Murray) finds himself in jolly old London and swiftly mistaken for a royal lookalike named Prince (Tim Curry), director Tim Hill rehashes a few of the same sweeping exterior shots of an English manor and some stock Big Ben footage in keeping with the film’s undoubtedly skimpy budget. Even the story recycles elements from The Prince and the Pauper and Babe, among other things, although no Dickens was harmed in an effort to justify the titular pun. Instead, Garfield finds himself catered to by the castle staff and followed by a loyal entourage of animals (voiced by the likes of Bob Hoskins, Richard E. Grant, Sharon Osbourne, Vinnie Jones, and others), all the while threatened by Lord Dargis (Billy Connelly), who stands to inherit the estate should a certain orange tabby be eliminated.
"An Utter Cat-astrophe"
However, if one is concerned that such a plot may be a tad convoluted for the toddlers, worry not: there should be enough crotch abuse and gas gags to placate them. The MPAA justifies the PG rating to cover “some off-color elements.” Besides the mildly improper humor, these elements could also be inclusive of Garfield’s solo to “Cat Scratch Fever,” the typical poor impression of Americans overseas, the rampant puns, the forty minutes allotted for the viewer to come up with a better Prince joke than the writers can, the non-animated Odie, going against the mythos by permitting Jon (Breckin Meyer) to get Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) yet again, and fouling up the latest Black Eyed Peas melody even worse than previously possible, just to name a few.
It feels belabored, even when the returning cast exhibits not one iota of enthusiasm. Connelly lamentably goes through the slapstick paces, while the equal disinterest of Murray and Curry is evident through their voice work. Relegated to even briefer appearances are Meyer and Hewitt, the latter of which seems particularly distant in her pithy performance than before, heavily hinting that her paycheck here will go to support whatever apparent substance abuse prompted her to take up this role in the first place. The animation is adequate enough, showing little noticeable development from its predecessor, yet at the end of the day, it just isn’t funny, save for the world’s least discriminating children.This isn’t a family film, but a kid’s movie, yet even under aptly reduced criteria, if rugrats have to piss away their afternoons 78 minutes at a time with substandard fare, there are certainly better options than this by default, even if they have to endure the first 'Garfield' instead. However, if it comes down to either this or 'Doogal,' it’s time to either turn off the TV or bust out the razor blades.
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originally posted: 07/02/06 15:14:39