003797Reviews & Counting
Garfield (SE)
DVD disk
12.13.2005 By: Jason Coleman
Garfield (SE) order
Pete Hewitt

Bill Murray
Breckin Meyer
Jennifer Love Hewitt


star Printer-Friendly version
Everyone’s favorite orange fat cat GARFIELD is back, this time in a live action version. He does all the things you’d expect from him; sleeps, fights with Odie, and gets himself into any and all trouble. (Aka mayhem ensues!)
For starters, I am a huge fan of all things GARFIELD. I’ve read the books since I was a little kid, watched all the various specials and animated shows, and it’s the first strip I turn to in the funny pages on Sunday. So I go into this film with a huge bias and favoritism. Unfortunately, the admiration stops there. This film version doesn’t do justice to all the things that separated the character of GARFIELD from all other wannabe comic strip animals. The CGI should have taken the old animation (which looked great!) and improved it ten fold. Instead we get distracted by a flat and boring GARFIELD mixed with a real dog version of Odie, which leaves no room for any of the canine’s cartoon personality. (Hey, maybe the CGI idea wasn’t so bad after all!)

The casting of Bill Murray as the voice of GARFIELD here seems like a blessing, but turns out to be a curse. He should have been a great fit; that droll and dry delivery that Murray has perfected could have been a GARFIELD staple. But Murray lightens up his normal tone and goes for a “trying to be funny” take on the character that just falls flat. I sense a lot of Murray improvising, which normally would be gold, but here changes (and not for the better!) the GARFIELD fans know and love. (I missed the wry delivery of Lorenzo Music, the voice behind the animated version!) Breckin Meyer, who again seems like the perfect Jon Arbuckle, just walks through this film with no solid character at all and Hewitt, well, her role could have virtually been played by a door stop. There is a real lack of life, personality, and humor in this GARFIELD and it’s a shame. Because those are exactly the three things that make the furry guy so beloved. (That and a little lasagna!)

(Side note: Will the kids like it? Well, I showed it to my five year old and he wandered off halfway through. But he ran over as if I was offering cake when I put on the animated version, go figure!)
The features on Disc 2 are nothing short of stellar. I’ve never once liked the special features of a film that I detested. Welcome to the exception.

Disc 1:

Audio commentary by Director Pete Hewitt and producer John Davis: The pairing of these two guys is like a bad version of the odd couple. Davis is brash (at one point he boasts his commentary was unscripted but genius!) and outspoken, while Hewitt (an Englishman) is rather reserved and only gets in on the talk when prompted by Davis. But overall the commentary is pretty much mundane and a little too mellow. And is it just me, or did I sense a little tension between these two? At one point they argue about Davis calling a mouse a rat, and then Davis slams Hewitt by asking him if he knew who the Director of Photography was. Telling. Most chilling moment – when Davis asks why Hewitt’s credit is in the middle of the screen, while his is at the bottom? Hewitt answers “because I’m more important!” to which Davis replies “Oh, we’ll see if you come back for the sequel!” (Tim Hill is currently credited as the director of GARFIELD 2!)

Disc 2:

Pick Of The Litter: The History Of Garfield: These mostly great history of docs should have been put in a set by themselves, they deserve it. And though it will bore kids, they are greats for all fans of Garfield.

The Birth of Garfield (18:40): A fascinating doc on how Garfield came about. Creator Jim Davis takes us on a journey of how and why Garfield exists today. It’s cleanly edited with comic strip interludes and small bits of family talking about Jim. A perfectly put together featurette, simple and sweet. (Wish they had taught this kind of history in my high school classes!)

The Rise Of Garfield (12:55): A companion piece to the above doc, with this one going into more detail about all the licensing and products for Garfield. Also in this one, a look at some of the die hard fans that brings back that eerie TREKKIES feel. (Be a little afraid!)

Garfield: From Strip To Script (10:01): Even though Jim Davis does talk in this one, it looks and feels like a promo for the film. Doesn’t belong with the others, it’s like a fourth wheel. Roll it down the hill and say adios!

Grab A #2 Pencil: Drawing With Jim Davis (6:17): What could be cooler then Jim Davis himself taking you (in two different angles no less!) through a session drawing Garfield?! Here he takes us through the various stages, as Garfield changed over the years, and even draws one of his failed (but still cool!) early characters, Norm the Gnat.

Production Documentaries:

Garfield: Bringing The Cat To Life (7:22): A very detailed doc on what it took to bring Garfield to the big screen. It was definitely no small feat, as this interesting featurette shows. It’s just too bad the outcome wasn’t better.

Garfield Presentation Reel (3:55): This one feels like it was made for something like Show West, because it shows off Garfield in different stages. The only interesting thing about this one is the peak at Bill Murray in the studio doing the voice over work.

Composite Workshop: This one offers five different sequences, Porch Dance, Odie’s On TV, On The Fence, Disco Dog! and It’s Liver-Flavored. All have five different composite versions (like a silver version, just a background, ect.) that you can view. Interesting, but not for kids. This one also contains an Illustrated Technical Commentary (11:12) by Visual Effects Supervisor Dan Deleeuw and Digital Effects Supervisor Karl Herbst, who discuss all things Garfield CGI. It’s interesting, but, because of the finished film, ultimately heartbreaking.

Gone Nutty (4:46): This is the short that features the ICE AGE squirrel Scrat. Funny and approved for all ages!

Storyboard To Film Comparisons: More scenes that you can watch alongside the storyboards. This one has four, featuring the coming home scene, the dog show scene, the musical number, and the dog pound scene. The bonus here is that you can watch your choice of either the storyboards or live action in the small box. A terrific interactive idea!

Deleted Scenes (10:04): Even though there are 18 deleted scenes here, they are so short, that it seems almost not worth it. Also, if they thought these scenes were great enough to be included here, they should have finished the damn Garfield effects! Deleted scenes indeed, big fat hairy deal!

There is a Game section featuring two games for kids, Find Odie Maze Game and Mixing Moments With Garfield. Also included is a Music Video: Baha Men “Holla!” and a Trailers section including the Teaser and Theatrical Trailer, Catch That Kid, Ice Age and Robots.
As a film, GARFIELD is a CGI flop, featuring a cat with none of the zest we have come to know and love. It doesn’t help that the actors in this fiasco are lifeless either. But the second disc of this Purrrfect Collector’s Edition manages to live up to its name and makes this set worth a watch! (Just wish the second disc could be purchased by itself!)
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