Two things can be stated with confidence regarding the new film Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties. One is that it is much better than its horrendous predecessor, Garfield: The Movie. The second is that it will make you crave two-cheese lasagna, Garfield’s favorite meal.
The film is less a Tale of Two Cities than it is The Prince and the Pauper or Babe with British accents. Not that it is anywhere near the quality of Babe, but with Bill Murray providing the voice for Garfield, the film consistently manages to amuse. At just about 80 minutes running time, the film will provide diverting entertainment for families in search of a break from the heat or the rain, depending on what one’s current meteorological affliction might be.
Lazy, self-indulgent Garfield is king of his own little castle, an ordinary American suburban home, where he lives in comfort with his bachelor owner Jon (Breckin Meyer). However, Jon’s plans to propose to Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt), a veterinarian, threaten to disrupt Garfield’s domestic bliss. So he sets out to impede the marriage. After Garfield ruins a planned romantic evening, Jon decides to follow Liz on her trip to England and propose amid the glories of the old country. The clever Garfield joins him as a stowaway. (London landmarks provide the backdrop for a surprisingly small portion of the action.)
Meanwhile, in another part of England, another cat, Prince (voiced by Tim Curry), who looks as if he could be Garfield’s twin, has just inherited Carlisle Castle. The insouciantly malicious Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly), Prince’s chief competitor for ownership of the Castle, tosses him into the river and off he floats to London, where Jon mistakes him for a runaway Garfield. Meanwhile, the real Garfield is found by the butler of the Castle (Ian Abercrombie, Mr. Pitt of Seinfeld fame) and is promptly transported to the Castle to resume his, er, Prince’s role as royal fat cat. Once there, Garfield grouses about a variety of things. When the servants try to feed Garfield a choice dish of intestines and spleen, he mocks, “What is this? Fear Factor?”
But he gradually comes to enjoy both the privileges and the authority of his unexpected elevation — one perk of which is that he can organize the entire troupe of farm animals to help him cook his favorite food, two-cheese lasagna. The culinary-deprived British animals are quick converts and end up fighting over the last morsel of the meal.
The plot is pretty thin, and the ending wouldn’t surprise even a child, but Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties is endearing and funny, with lots of physical humor, especially toward the end when the animals plot to undermine the machinations of Lord Dargis — who ends up seeming not so much odious as comically mismatched, in the way a character like Mr. Rooney is out of his league by the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Not a particularly memorable film, but not the disappointment of the original Garfield, either. So, if you go, take the whole family and plan to eat Italian after.
— Thomas Hibbs, an NRO contributor, is author of Shows About Nothing.