June 15, 2006


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Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (R)
Bill Murray tumbles out of bed, throws a baseball cap on and shuffles in to work for the I’m guessing no-impact work of giving voice to the big orange cartoon cat Garfield in Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, a sequel to the 2004 film that apparently enough people actually paid money to see.

Apparently, according to the numbers on IMDB.com, the first movie made something like twice the $50 million it cost to make. This number amazes me (though I would have forked over twice the price of the ticket to get in to Garfield if I would have been allowed to get out of Garfield, so perhaps they made those numbers up that way). Or perhaps that movie made its money the same way this one will, preying on the desperation of parents who will take their kids to see anything that allows them 90 minutes of piece and quiet in the air-conditioned comfort of a movie theater.

And, at the screening where I saw A Tale of Two Kitties, kids did giggle, snort and guffaw at the adventures of the chubby Garfield and his slow-witted fellow pet Odie and their even more slow-witted owner Jon (Breckin Meyer). Jon plans to propose to his veterinarian girlfriend Lisa (Jennifer Love Hewitt) but she gets a speaking engagement in London. For reasons never addressed (it’s a speaking engagement, not an extradition — it’s not like she’s never coming back), Jon decides to go to London to pop the question there. He arrives with Garfield and Odie having stowed away in his luggage because, er, it’s on page 10 of the script that they do so.

Once on the town in London, Garfield is mistaken for another cat, a prancy lord of the manor named Prince (Tim Curry). Prince has just been left the entirety of a fancy estate by his aristocratic owner. This inheritance has particularly vexed Dargis (Bill Connelly), nephew of the animal loving lady who had been waiting for his royal aunt to die and leave him a nice chunk of English countryside on which to build a spa and country club. Dargis, now facing the prospect of having to wait for Prince to use up his nine lives before a human can inherit, has set on a campaign to hasten along the kitties demise. On his first attempt, he chucks Prince in a basket and chucks the basket in the Thames, which ends up in London where the butler Smithee (Ian Abercrombie) finds and orange cat and brings it back to the manor. Except that cat is Garfield and Prince is picked up by a worried Jon who takes him back to the hotel for lasagna and TV. At stately cat-lover’s manor, a slew of other animals — led by a bulldog named Winston (Bob Hoskins) — try to convince Garfield to stay to prevent Dargis’ plans for an animal-free redevelopment from going forward.

So, shall we talk about the limited character development, slight plot and flavorless dialogue or do you want to jump right to the part where I say the movie sucks?

A Tale of Two Kitties is painfully mediocre — as flat and twice-chewed as the daily strip. While no one expects Breckin Meyer to suddenly sparkle with heretofore unnoticed talent, you would think that Murray and Curry could have a little more fun if the script allowed. Instead, they seem to be reading their lines for speed and volume.

Yes, kids old enough to appreciate burps (four, maybe) and young enough not to have integrated the word “lame” into their regular vocabulary (under 10) will probably enjoy the movie at least as much as they are bored by it. But is their momentary entertainment worth your long lasting suffering (there is a good chance you will get a Black-Eyed Peas song stuck in your head)? D

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