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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.41%
Worth A Look: 10.81%
Just Average: 5.41%
Pretty Crappy: 18.92%

4 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Why? Because Jarmusch and Anderson apparently don't pay a living wage"
1 stars

At a certain point during the screening of “Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties”–I think it was just about the time when the opening credits finished–my thoughts began to wander as I idly speculated as to how a film as pointless, wearying and staggeringly unfunny as this one could have actually been conceived, developed produced and distributed by theoretically sentient human beings. In fact, if I close my eyes and think really hard, I can almost see the scene right now. Imagine a large boardroom inside the headquarters of 20th Century Fox–a room festooned with posters commemorating such proud studio moments as “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit,” “The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker” and “Chu Chu and the Philly Flash” and currently filled with executives suddenly charged with coming up with an idea for a sequel to “Garfield”–the 2004 film that somehow made a ton of money despite being an underachieving adaptation of a comic strip that itself hadn’t been funny since Reagan was a first-termer. I’m guessing that the ensuing conversation went something like this.

High-Powered Executive: Okay, let’s be quick–I have to see the “Just My Luck” rushes in an hour. Any ideas for a “Garfield” sequel?

Idealistic Junior Development Executive: I have an idea. See, we put hardly any effort into making the first film–a lazy screenplay, a CGI central character that was creepy to look at and a central voice performance from an actor who couldn’t quite disguise his vague embarrassment over the entire enterprise–and it still made $80 million domestic. Therefore, it stands to reason that if that many people would cheerfully pay to see something that bad, even more would pay if we came up with a sequel that at least tried to be a good movie and not just a lazy payday for all involved.

High-Powered Executive (after pondering this for a moment): Hmmm, interesting. However, if we made that much money off of so little effort back then, it stands to reason that if we put in even less effort into it this time around, we could make even more of a profit because we are investing less. Why don’t we just have him meet a lookalike and the two can switch places. Even better, let’s do it in London–that way, we can get both paychecks and a holiday in England without doing much of anything to actually earn either of them. Agreed? Okay, let’s take a look at that “Alien vs. Predator 2" screenplay–we still having them fighting in a K-Mart?

I guess it makes sense to try such a thing from a “creative” standpoint–since the character and the comic strip are both essentially one-joke affairs with no real backstory to draw from, aside from the liking lasagna and disliking Mondays, you may as well plug him into yet another riff on “The Prince and the Pauper”–but the only way that it could actually work is if the film managed to put some kind of spin on the material to keep it at least slightly interesting. Instead, this unbelievably tired sequel follows the basic template with a slavishness that makes the recent “Omen” remake look freewheeling and radical by comparison. Even with that, the story is so threadbare that it still requires no fewer than three pointless musical montages to get the film to something vaguely approximating a feature length. (Including all the end credits, the whole thing clocks in at only about 75 minutes and trust me, the skimpy running time is one of the few real assets that it has to offer.)<

This time around, Garfield (once again voiced by Bill Murray), along with slobbering puppy Odie, is off to merry olde England in an attempt to prevent owner Jon (once again played by Breckin Meyer) from proposing to vet girlfriend Liz (once again played by Jennifer Love Hewitt’s cleavage) while she is lecturing at a symposium. (We learn that this theoretically ordinary vet from America–one with a boyfriend whose cat should rightfully be dead from his horrific, pasta-heavy diet–has been called as a last-minute replacement for Jane Goodall, a moment that constitutes the comedic highpoint of the film.) Through circumstances too convoluted to go into, he is mistaken for lookalike cat Prince (voiced by Tim Curry), a feline who has just inherited a lavish and fully staffed castle from his late owner. Now installed as the literal lord of the manor, Garfield goes along with the ruse until he discovers that the nefarious Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly) is trying to kill Prince in order to seize the property and turn it into some condos. After a dark night of the soul (well, a couple of minutes), the always-caustic cat learns the value of humility and teamwork (just the attributes that Garfield is famous for) and bands together with the other animals of the manor (voiced by the likes of Jane Leeves, Richard E. Grant, Bob Hoskins and Sharon Osbourne) in order to defeat Dargis, return Prince to his rightful place and otherwise save the day for one and all.<

Like the original, this sequel has two basic flaws that are so great and fundamental that they basically doom the project from the get-go. For starters, the material is so moldy and shopworn that even the toddlers in the audience will find themselves with a sense of deja vu. We get the standard ain’t-England-wacky? jokes involving bidets, frozen-faced palace guards and culinary delights involving animal intestines. For the kids, we get gross-out gags involving belches, flatulence and piddling dogs and for older viewers, we get a cat-formerly-known-as-Prince joke and a Hannibal Lecter reference. We get obvious song cues throughout–at one point, we hear The Dave Clark Five’s “Glad All Over” in an effort to remind us that the characters indeed feel glad all over. We even get a reprise of the old mirror routine where two people who look alike attempt to parrot each other’s movements–this is a bit that has never been performed better than when the Marx Brothers did it in “Duck Soup” and perhaps never before performed in a more desultory manner than here.

And yet, even if the material weren’t as shopworn as it is–even if Charlie Kaufman had somehow sat down at his breakfast nook and devised the perfect screenplay for a “Garfield” movie (whatever that could possibly entail)–it still wouldn’t matter very much because this is a film with a title character who is so creepy and off-putting that it is impossible to look at him with anything other than a curious revulsion. Once again, the filmmakers have made the inexplicable decision to render the title character as a CGI creation while having everyone else, including the other talking animals (including Meyer and Hewitt), portrayed by flesh-and-blood creatures. This is a crippling blow because a.) the CGI Garfield is a remarkably ugly creation on a level with Scooby-Doo, Jar-Jar Binks and the talking snowman from “Jack Frost” and b.) the clash between his cartoony stylization and the otherwise realistic characters is so jarring that it overwhelms the material. Why the filmmakers didn’t just make Garfield real or the other animals CGI instead of picking an approach destined to alienate practically everyone watching?<

“Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties” is mind-rotting junk of the lowest possible caliber but you can’t really blame most of the people involved with its production from taking part. For returning screenwriters Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, they have apparently figured out how to squeeze maximum bucks out of minimum effort and you can’t fault them for taking advantage of it. For Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt, it is a chance to be the top-billed actors in a successful franchise, even though they are as integral to its success as Steve Guttenberg was to the “Police Academy” films. For the British actors, it is a chance to fill up their coffers with a few days of work that few of their adult fans will ever get around to seeing. These may not be pure and noble reasons for making a film but they are real reasons and if you or I were in their positions, I suspect that we’d both do the same.

However, the fact that Bill Murray is once again slumming as the voice of Garfield is as depressing as anything you are likely to encounter in a movie theater this summer outside of a Michael Winterbottom film. When he made the first “Garfield,” many critics gave him a pass on the theory that the ginormous sums of money that he presumably earned there allowed him to work with the likes of Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola and Jim Jarmusch on projects where the artistic rewards outweighed the financial ones. This time around, however, he sounds so mortified at the material that he has been given to work with (including a rendition of “Cat Scratch Fever” and lines like “I hate Mondays” and “I’ve been a stupid, selfish cat”) that you’ll find yourself hoping that he can find a less humiliating way of selling out his talents for big bucks. How about “Ghostbusters 3”? How about “Larger Than Life 2"? How about going to Japan to do a commercial for Suntory Whiskey–after all, he already knows the drill on that one.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14718&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/16/06 00:25:24
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User Comments

11/28/09 Rachel Definitely worth a look. My family enjoyed it! 4 stars
1/06/09 Bethany Cox Entertaining! Improvement on first movie! Tim Curry made me laugh! 3 stars
5/03/07 Matt Misses the mark coz the cartoon strip isn't really for under 5's. 2 stars
4/19/07 Eric Rushford One of the best films ever, just as good as the first. 5 stars
12/09/06 Craig Anyone who voted this above a 1 is a complete, irredeemable moron. 1 stars
11/09/06 Kyle Quinton Anderson it was funny 5 stars
10/16/06 Tiffany my daughter loved this movie. She is 3. I thought it was cute too. 4 stars
10/13/06 michael good story 2 see 4 stars
10/12/06 Charles Tatum Manages to kill the franchise in less than an hour and a half 1 stars
10/10/06 Jon Dolnier garfield can eat my meat balls and suck the juices off my sausage. 4 stars
9/21/06 Lisa Craven This movie really hurt to watch, bored me to tears, canned dialogue, total crap 1 stars
7/07/06 Gerry Irons awfulll zzzzzzzzzzzzz 1 stars
6/23/06 Jon Dolnier Tim Curry and the cast of the barnyard pretty much saves it IMO. 3 stars
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  16-Jun-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 10-Oct-2006



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