Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

The Garfield Movie (Christian Movie Review) 

About the Film 

It has been nearly 20 years since everyone’s favorite lasagna-loving feline graced the silver screen, but Garfield is back to prove he still has several lives left. Jim Davis’ classic comic strips are beloved by many, but the character has struggled to reestablish himself for younger generations. Unfortunately, I’m not sure The Garfield Movie will do much to change that. Parents will surely appreciate the absence of problematic content, but the movie demonstrates that the lack of “bad” doesn’t always equal “good.” Despite a few fun moments, The Garfield Movie is a mostly forgettable, directionless story that fails to honor its iconic character.   

They say cats always land on their feet, but The Garfield Movie struggles to find firm footing. The film was directed by Mark Dindal, who helmed arguably the greatest animated movie ever made, The Emperor’s New Groove (2000). Whereas The Emperor’s New Groove was elevated by a confident and distinctive tone, The Garfield Movie lacks a clear vision.   

The biggest problem is that it doesn’t really seem like a Garfield story at all. Instead, it feels like a generic animated adventure—perhaps an unused story idea for a Secret Lives of Pets sequel—that was cloaked in the Garfield IP to improve its marketability. Some scattered moments capture the character’s famous sarcasm and wit, particularly when he breaks the fourth wall. But the decision to send the domesticated feline on a convoluted heist adventure is perhaps misguided.   

Stripped of many of his defining qualities, Garfield simply isn’t a compelling character. He is voiced by Chris Pratt, who has somehow become a go-to voice actor for animated films. As with The Super Mario Bros. Movie, his performance in The Garfield Movie is simply “Chris Pratt’s voice coming from an animated character.” The cat on screen looks like Garfield, but he rarely demonstrates Garfield’s spirit.    

Despite its faults, The Garfield Movie is not devoid of charm. Like most cats, Garfield is not a particularly sentimental or affectionate character. Yet the movie is surprisingly sweet and emotional at times, such as during an adorable pre-title card origin story of the relationship between Garfield and Jon.  

Some of the movie’s most successful gags come from physical comedy, such as an amusing training sequence or a failed attempt to gracefully board a moving train. These jokes feel more like Kung Fu Panda than Garfield, but they are amusing.    

The Garfield Movie is less successful at capturing the character’s signature wit and quips. Perhaps the traditional elements of a character created in the 1970s simply don’t translate well to the 2020s. But despite attempting to reestablish the character for a younger audience, many of the film’s attempts at humor are clearly aimed at parents. For example, a swarm of fast-food delivery drones arrive during a climactic scene. Their silhouettes are framed against the sun, paying visual homage to the 1979 film Apocalypse Now. The background music is the theme from Top Gun (1986), and Garfield quips that he does all his own stunts, “Me and Tom Cruise.” None of these comedic elements will likely resonate with younger viewers.  

For many parents, whether the movie is “bad” quality-wise is less important than whether it’s free from “bad” content. During a time when taking kids to the theater feels like navigating a minefield of mature content, agendas, or messages, The Garfield Movie is as clean as they come. There is no language, sexual themes, or other elements parents must “unteach” on the car ride home. It may not be the most entertaining family film, but at least its primary goal seems to be entertaining families, nothing more.     

Kids who didn’t grow up with Garfield are unlikely to care if the movie stays true to the classic spirit of the character. They simply want to be entertained. In that regard, The Garfield Movie offers mild and inoffensive entertainment. Still, what could have been a loving ode to an iconic character instead comes across as detached and corporate. Ironically, despite an underlying theme decrying commercialization, the movie bursts with product placement to a near-comical degree. The result is a family film that feels as empty as Jon’s fridge after Garfield finishes his midnight snack run.     

On the Surface

For Consideration

Beneath The Surface

Engage The Film

Loneliness & Belonging     

The Garfield Movie isn’t particularly deep, but that doesn’t mean its messages aren’t wholesome or important. The central theme is about our fundamental need for relationships. Almost every character in the movie, whether human or animal, is motivated by loneliness and the desire to belong. Jon is a single man; Garfield is a kitten (seemingly) abandoned by his father; Jinx—the feline villain—is motivated by revenge toward those who deserted her.  

In some cases, characters find companionship by working out differences within a family, such as in the relationship between Garfield and his estranged father (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson). There is a repeated motif of family simply showing up for each other. They may not always understand each other, but family can still be present and supportive. Many of the other characters find a sense of belonging through “found family.”   

The Bible affirms the important role of both literal and metaphorical families. When the biblical authors speak about the church, they often use the language of family: “So, then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).  

Show CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment