His current kick? Garfield. It started with a Christmas tree ornament we have of the fat feline, and from there it grew to books, to DVDs of the ‘90s TV show, to full-length features…which brings us to Garfield’s FunFest.
• In the surreal comic-strip town where Garfield, owner Jon, and frenemy dog Odie live, it’s time for the 30th annual FunFest – a talent show where the winner gets the top spot on the Comics page (just play along).
• Garfield and his girlfriend Arlene always win FunFest with their standup routine, and Garfield sees this year as no exception. But Arlene’s tired of doing standup and wants to try something different with Garfield for their talent: dancing the tango! Garfield vehemently refuses and storms off.
• Enter Ramon, a dashing latino feline who has no qualms about doing the tango with Arlene…and making time with her in the process.
• Dejected, Garfield goes to The Mythical Forest to find the answer behind being funny (he read in a book that you can “drink the funny water”) – and along the way, he just might learn a bit about himself.
• Directors Mark A.Z. Dippé and Eondeok Han (working from a script by Garfield creator Jim Davis) keep things moving just fast enough to be interesting, without resorting to ADD-type, attention-grabbing action. Yet ironically, the time Garfield spends in the Mythical Forest is where the film loses some momentum.
• The film’s jokes are much like the original comic strip and TV show – very zinger-esque but not quite knee-slappers (though there is a funny reference to those annoying Garfield suction-cupped car window displays from yesteryear).
• The CGI animation (farewell, 2-D Garfield) is well done for a straight-to-DVD film – very fluid movement and good use of shadows.
• Animation voiceover veteran Frank Welker (Scooby Doo’s Fred) portrays Garfield with an even more sedated delivery than that of original Garfield voice Lorenzo Music.
• It was surely no casting accident that comedy legend Tim Conway is the voice of an elder frog who teaches Garfield what it means to be funny (embrace your humility, it’s all about your audience, etc.).
• The fact that this 2008 film is about the 30th annual FunFest may not be an accident either, but perhaps an in-joke by Davis: His first Garfield strip premiered in 1978.
Garfield’s FunFest is sufficiently entertaining, if a bit nonsensical. Put it in the “solid rental” category the next time you’re thinking of something to watch with your kids.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5).
What did Dash think?He was attentive throughout and chuckled often. He also let me know Ramon’s role in the film every time the lothario was on screen: “I think he’s the bad guy.” “He’s bad.” “He’s doing bad things.” Just in case I wasn’t sure, I guess.
Will your kids like it?They probably will, though be forewarned there’s a scene where Garfield, telling another cat why the cat won’t win FunFest, says it's “because you suck.” I’m no prude, but it’s sad and disappointing that the filmmakers couldn’t come up with something softer for this kids’ movie (“you stink” immediately comes to mind). There’s also the occasional insult of “fatso” thrown at Garfield. Dash didn’t latch on to any of this, and your kids might not either, but FYI…
Will your FilmMother like it?I think she’d find it a fun (though ultimately forgettable) film to watch with the kids.
* Directors: Mark A.Z. Dippé, Eondeok Han
* Screenwriter: Jim Davis
* Stars: Frank Welker, Tim Conway, Audrey Wasilewski, Gregg Berger, Wally Wingert
* MPAA Rating: G