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The Garfield Movie (2024) | Review

Adventure, slapstick, and sentiment blend in the sixth big-screen outing of the voracious cat: Dindal and Reynolds (The Emperor's New Groove) are a reliable duo.
The Garfield Movie (2024)

MOVIE REVIEWS

The Garfield Movie (2024)
Directed by Mark Dindal

Adventure, slapstick, and sentiment blend in the sixth big-screen outing of the voracious cat: Dindal and Reynolds (The Emperor’s New Groove) are a reliable duo.

The Garfield Movie combines the universal themes of animation with the slapstick humor of Hanna-Barbera cartoons. This sixth cinematic adventure of the lazy and gluttonous cat created by Jim Davis—the fourth in animated form—is among the most rollicking and fun, thanks also to the clever writing of David Reynolds and the direction of Mark Dindal, who bring sensitivity and comedic timing to the franchise as previously seen in The Emperor’s New Groove.

In The Garfield Movie, we find the elements that have contributed to the character’s success (holding the record for the world’s most published comic strip for over twenty years), from a passion for pizza and lasagna to an embrace of bourgeois comfort, practiced with the benevolent indulgence of his owner Jon Arbuckle and Odie the dog, who here appears as Garfield’s true guardian angel, receiving perhaps the most interesting treatment compared to the less cunning and subjugated version in the comics. The film isn’t a sequel to anything; it targets today’s children and thus includes an extended prologue explaining how Garfield and Jon met.

Once the context is established and the characters are outlined, the mission unfolds in two parts for the big cat: on one side, to escape the clutches of an evil and vengeful female cat and her canine minions, he must steal thousands of liters of milk from a farm turned amusement park; on the other, he must endure the presence of Vic, his father, whom Garfield views as having abandoned him.

These two narrative strands maintain a constant balance in the film, between a taste for pyrotechnic adventure (directly affiliated with the heist movie genre) and Disney-like sentimentality, which merge into themes of self-discovery (the action-oriented Garfield) and understanding others (the father figure), ultimately about maturation and second chances. The slapstick vein reminiscent of Chuck Jones brings to older audiences the perpetual motion and the stretchable and compressible shapes of old cartoons, from Tom & Jerry to Beep, Beep, with some inserts from yesteryear’s analog animation. The style, however, is as clean as digital, round, soft, and colorful, catering to today’s young viewers.

If there’s a flaw, it lacks the edge, which for a cat is no small matter. It’s spotless fun but not necessarily altruistic or inclusive (the only two notable female characters are villains). Catflix is Garfield’s living room pastime, a play on the well-known streaming service, but satire is something else. Memorable is the rooftop train chase, worthy of the similar scene in Mission: Impossible, which it openly references.

Gianluca Arnone

Cinematografo, April 30, 2024

The Garfield Movie was first theatrically released in several countries beginning on May 1, 2024, and is set to be released in the United States on May 24, 2024.

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