Garfield is a cartoon that many kids watched as a child. Looking back, the cartoon wasn't very funny. In fact, most kids probably watch it because it is animated and on TV, and nothing more. And yet, like the equally mediocre Scooby Doo, Garfield is now on the big screen.
This movie isn't a complete failure. Bill Murray voices Garfield, and it is a great casting decision. Murray's dry wit is perfect for the lazy, lasagna-loving cat. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the cast.
Murray's riffs offer a few good laughs, but outside of that, the film isn't very entertaining. Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt sleepwalk through their roles, and I can't blame them for doing so. They are given nothing to do except fake a stale relationship.
The oddest decision in the film is to computer animate Garfield while making the rest of the film live-action. The dorky looking Jon is played by Meyer, who isn't very dorky looking at all. Hewitt plays Liz, a veterinarian who just happens to have a thing for dorks. The film would have worked better if the entire thing was animated, but I can deal with live action humans interacting with animated, talking animals. Except in this film, it's an animated, talking animal. Garfield's other cat friends talk, but they are real cats with animated mouths. Odie, Jon's dog, is also live action, but has no speaking parts.
Perhaps it wasn't animated because it steals so many plot points from the great Toy Story films. The big sequence of the film, which involves Garfield leaving his home street to rescue his pal from a tall tower, plays exactly like the big, funny sequence from Toy Story 2 when Woody goes to rescue Buzz. Except, in this case, the sequence isn't that big or funny. It's just there.
Bill Murray improves this meager offering, but not enough to recommend actually seeing the film. The animation is very solid at times -- when Jon hugs Garfield, it looks real -- but shaky at other moments. The film isn't visually or comedically striking. Like the original cartoon, it's just there.