Review: In Revisiting a Cartoon Cat, All That’s Left is a Mess of The Garfield Movie

At no point during the joyless, soulless animated nonsense that is The Garfield Movie did I ever think something special was afoot. From the voice acting (Chris Pratt as Garfield? Seriously?) to the shockingly flat animation style, nearly all of this rehashing of both Garfield comic strips and countless other animated works is uninspired junk. Garfield (Pratt, in case that wasn’t clear a second ago) still displays terrifying eating habits (lasagna is still his favorite, but he can also consume a pizza in a single bite) and hates Mondays, while treating his owner’s other pet, Odie the dog (Harvey Guillén), with open disdain. Garfield also knows how to use food-delivery apps, leaving owner Jon (Nicholas Hoult) with a hefty credit card bill.

For what it’s worth, the story of The Garfield Movie concerns an unexpected reunion between Garfield and his long-lost father, your basic tough-guy alley cat named Vic (Samuel L. Jackson), who comes to his son (whom he effectively abandoned many years earlier) looking for help in paying back a debt to some kind of crime boss cat named Jinx (Hannah Waddingham, who I’m basically done with between this film and The Fall Guy). In order to get out of debt, the reunited family must carry out a heist, and if you ask me to remember any more of the plot, I got nothing for you, dude. 

Director Mark Dindal (The Emperor’s New Groove, Chicken Little) does remarkably little to amp up the energy of the story or the characters, and despite a cast that includes such luminaries as Ving Rhames, Cecily Strong, Brett Goldstein, Bowen Yang, Janelle James, and even Snoop Dogg (as Snoop Cat…sigh), the film is just plain dull—maybe one of the worst animated works I’ve seen in theaters in a very long time. Even the usually affable Pratt gives us nothing more than his average, everyday voice, without a hint of the glorious exaggerated Italian accent of Mario. Way to set us up, only to tear us down, Pratt. 

Do kids or adults even like Garfield any longer? It’s a serious question that the makers of this movie should have asked themselves before creating a single frame of this pointless, pandering work that doesn’t even accomplish the simple mission of making us like the lead character before asking us to spend 90 minutes with him and his equally unlikeable buddies. I give up: The Garfield Movie isn’t even interesting enough to be considered a hot mess; it’s just your basic, run-of-the-mill garbage heap.

The film is now in theaters.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.