Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties review by Mike Long

I hope this doesn't violate child labor laws, but when I'm reviewing a family movie on DVD, I often enlist my children to help me evaluate the film. Let's face it, many of these movies aren't aimed at me and the kids are a great litmus test when it comes to a movie's quality. Being children, they are typically more forgiving in judging films. When I asked them to watch Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, it only held their attention for about 10 minutes. This happened on two separate occasions. Things aren't looking very good for Garfield.

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties is the sequel to the 2004 surprise hit Garfield. (I say surprise because the movie was awful.) Breckin Meyer reprises his role as Jon Arbuckle, the hapless owner of sassy fat-cat Garfield (voiced by Bill Murray). As the film opens, Jon is preparing to propose to his girlfriend, Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt), a successful veterinarian (a fact that Garfield hates). But, when Liz arrives at Jon’s house, he doesn’t have time to pop the question as Liz announces that she’s been invited to a vet conference in London. So, Jon decides to follow Liz there in order to propose. Garfield and his canine sidekick Odie are supposed to stay in a kennel, but stowaway in Jon’s luggage.

Meanwhile, in England, the mistress of Carlyle Castle has died and left her fortune to her cat, Prince (voiced by Tim Curry), who just happens to look exactly like Garfield. Dargis (Billy Connolly) is furious that the estate wasn’t left to him, so he plots to get rid of Prince by throwing the cat in the Thames. Jon arrives in London and is shocked to find Garfield and Odie (but not his clothes) in his luggage. Smithee (Ian Abercrombie), Prince’s butler, spots Garfield on the street and assumes that it’s Prince, and take the cat back to the Castle. Then, Jon sees Prince emerge from a sewer and thinks that it’s Garfield. As each cat grows accustomed to their new lives, Dargis becomes more desperate to fulfill his plan. Can Garfield indulge in the lap of luxury and save the castle?

Well, my children were probably right to dismiss Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, but it’s not as bad as they made it out to be. Obviously, the film is aimed at children (and not at older fans of the Garfield comic strips) and there are some things here that kids should like. The jokes in the film range from mild to slightly crude (there is farting and burping, of course) and there are some somewhat humorous moments. The Castle is filled with many animals, and younger children should delights in seeing the rabbits and ferrets running around.

My biggest problem with this movie was the writing. Granted, I was exciting a tightly-wound Tarantino-esque script from Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, but the movie was written by two of the writers for Toy Story. (Although, they also wrote Cheaper by the Dozen, so there goes that theory.) Frankly, the writing here is lazy. No one should expect originality from a film like this, but this is strictly painting by numbers -- Sequels need a change of scenery, so invent idea for main characters to go to London; Throw in “Prince and the Pauper” plot; Add villain who wants to change everything; Add some “hip” dialogue and jokes. That seems to be the recipe for this film, and frankly it stinks. Whether my kids know it or not, they were taking a stand and telling Hollywood, “We want better stories!” (And apparently they weren’t the only ones, as this movie made over 70% less than its predecessor.)

Garfield: The Movie was not only an insult to the comic strip, it was a pretty bad movie. Thus, we shouldn’t expect any more or less from the sequel. Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties brings us the same cat who doesn’t really look like Garfield spouting more smart-alec remarks. This is something that I would normally recommend just for the kids, but hey, even the kids don’t want to see it!

Garfield: A TaleTail of Two Kitties goes abroad on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD contains the theatrical cut of the film, presented full-frame, and an extended cut which is presented widescreen. Don’t ask me. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed, although I would have probably preferred the shorter version. (The extended version runs some 8 minutes longer.) The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks pretty good, as there is little grain to be found here. The picture is sharp and clear, with only some minor moments of artifacting. The colors look fine, most notably the green lawns of the Castle, and the image has nice depth. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5. 1 audio track. This is a fairly standard track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. I did note very nice usage of stereo effects. The surround sound is typically limited to street noises or musical cues, and we are treated to nice subwoofer boom every time Garfield falls down.

The Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties only has a few special features. There is a MUSIC VIDEO for the song “Come and Get It” by Brian Anthony. “Garfield” creator Jim Davis demonstrates how to draw Garfield, Odie, and Pookie (Garfield’s teddy bear). Lastly, there are two set-top games.

3 out of 10 Jackasses

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