Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006)
Release Date: June 16th, 2006 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Tim Hill Actors: Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Billy Connolly, Bill Murray, Bob Hoskins, Tim Curry, Richard E. Grant, Lucy Davis, Ian Abercrombie
he plot to this wholly unnecessary sequel follows a loose, overused, and muddled version of “The Prince and the Pauper” – and with its subtitle (“A Tale of Two Kitties”), this production has the audacity to reference both Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. Garfield’s owner, Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer), decides to travel to London to meet his girlfriend Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who is on tour as a member of some random committee. He’s been struggling to work up the courage to propose to her, and this little getaway should provide a wonderful opportunity. Garfield (Bill Murray), accompanied by Odie, the supposedly brainless sidekick dog, sneaks into Jon’s luggage and journeys with him to the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile in England, Prince (voiced by Tim Curry), a pampered royal cat, inherits a large castle, which rival Dargis (Billy Connolly) – the human next in line for the inheritance – feels should have gone to him (a premise dangerously similar to Disney’s “The Aristocats”). After getting tossed into a lake by the conniving Dargis, the peculiarly flamboyant cat manages to escape to the sewers of London. Shortly thereafter, while perusing his new habitat, Prince is mistakenly recovered by Jon, who believes he is Garfield. And, as expected, Garfield is discovered by Prince’s butler, who brings him back to the palace in place of the royal feline. As Garfield discovers the pleasures of having servants and a stocked kitchen to fulfill his every need, Prince discovers the joys of lasagna and Jennifer Love Hewitt’s lap. After each cat experiences the other’s way of life, the two felines realize that they were ultimately happier where they started – and so they plot to dispose of the villain and reverse the reversals of their situations.
Jennifer Love Hewitt bouncing about in various low-cut clothing is one of the few redeeming factors in this lukewarm sequel, though her role is greatly diminished from before – and her sex appeal is certainly not a nostalgic factor (or an intended one) from Jim Davis’ original comic strip. The film itself is an odd mix of live-action animals that speak, regular human actors, and the computer-animated Garfield and Prince. This perplexing combination only dissuades viewers from being truly immersed in the “real” world of talking animals, since the source of that fantasy continually shifts. The animation is top-notch, however, with Garfield interacting with the other characters and objects in a routinely believable manner. Although this property should have stayed in the realm of CBS’ traditionally-animated television series from the late ‘80s to the mid ‘90s, at least the main character’s look and attitude remain faithful in the transition.
Children will probably enjoy this film as much as the first one, but only those who are young enough – or mindless enough – not to discern quality entertainment from an abundance of colors and sounds. Unfortunately for parents, they will only have lengthy bouts of yawning to look forward to; most of the jokes are simply not amusing enough for adults to expend any effort to react. On the bright side, the film is relatively short. Despite Bill Murray’s voice talents matching Garfield’s wit and charm perfectly, this second outing fails to introduce anything even mildly fresh to the franchise. Of course, Twentieth Century Fox is working with a proven, kid-friendly formula, so adding pre-sold audiences (of which there are countless fans, thanks to the property’s massive reach through marketing and branding) to the equation just comes naturally.
– Mike Massie