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 V.15 No.24 | June 15 - 21, 2006 

Film Review

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties

Cat scratch fever

Believe it or not, this scene actually wastes the talents of two Oscar-nominated actors: Bill Murray and Bob Hoskins.
Believe it or not, this scene actually wastes the talents of two Oscar-nominated actors: Bill Murray and Bob Hoskins.

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties

Directed by Tim Hill

Cast: Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Billy Connolly

According to Christian doctrine, Christ suffered for your sins. While I have no wish to get all John Lennon on you and start comparing myself to Christ, I would like to point out that I have, in fact, suffered for the bad things you've done.

Right now, for example, I'm suffering for the fact that you (or a whole lot of people like you) spent $75 million watching the live-action Garfield movie in the summer of 2004. Encouraged by your monetary vote of confidence, some damn fool went out and made another one these things. It's all your fault, America. I didn’t contribute to the box office receipts of Garfield. I saw it for free.

It's OK, though. I forgive you. I'm confident you regret your past actions. I'm sure you wrote it off as a “slow weekend” with “nothing better to do.” Hell, you were probably drunk when you saw it. In that case, here's my advice: Think of Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties as a bad first date you're embarrassed you ended up sleeping with. The best course of action is to simply avert your eyes as you pass the theater and pretend you can't see it. Garfield? Who the hell is Garfield? Never heard of him.

Don't worry. I'll take a bullet for the team on this one. I'll watch Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties so you don't have to.

In A Tail of Two Kitties (oh, the puns are already flowing fast and furious and it's only the title), our fat feline finds himself embroiled in a case of mistaken cat-identity. Rather than ripping off Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities as the title implies, this no-effort-expended sequel rips off Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Much as it pains me to do so, allow me to elaborate on the plot at hand. Garfield’s schmucky owner Jon (Breckin Meyer) follows his lady love Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) to England in hopes of asking her to marry him. For reasons too contrived to get into, Garfield ends up being mistaken for a royal fat cat and inheriting a castle in the English countryside.

Once ensconced in the rich trappings he so smugly believes he deserves, our lasagna-loving feline runs afoul of the scheming Lord Dargis (played by a no-doubt embarrassed Billy Connolly) who wants the estate all for himself. Turns out he plans to evict the castle’s many animals, converting the place into a resort hotel that ... oh, why bother getting into it? From there on out, it’s pretty much Home Alone 6, with Garfield outwitting the bumbling Brit and Connolly picking up the slapstick table scraps of Daniel Stern. (Ouch.)

Leashed to an unoriginal storyline and some hideously dated jokes (Silence of the Lambs was 15 years ago, people! What kid is gonna get that reference?), A Tail of Two Kitties totters along on musical montages and butt jokes (your basic repertoire of farts and keister falls). There's enough color and movement to keep the youngest of youngsters from gnawing on the seatback in front of them, but just barely.

A film like Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties neither asks for, nor merits any sort of critical analysis. Think too hard (or at all), and you're giving it too much credit. Nonetheless, I felt vaguely creeped-out by the fact that this film features a mix of normal, non-talking animals (like Garfield’s dumb-dog nemesis Odie), real animals who can talk (just like Babe: Pig in the City) and computer-generated cartoons (Garfield and his twin, voiced by a no-doubt embarrassed Tim Curry). What's the deal with that? Pick one or the other. Wildly inconsistent and filled with silly fantasy, this Garfield doesn't even do justice to its “three panels and a punchline” source material.

And to those legions of grown-up Garfield fans (you know who you are with your Garfield coffee mugs and your plush orange dolls clinging wide-eyed to the back window of your Geo Metro), I say this: Stop, you're embarrassing yourself. Jim Davis' comic strip hasn't been funny in 20 years. Go read a clever, humorous, well-written comic strip, like ... um ...


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