The Garfield Movie Doesn’t Deserve So Much Hate From Critics

By Robert Scucci | Updated


As a 36-year-old father of two, I sometimes have to make compromises that challenge my integrity and taste. The most recent example of succumbing to the whims of my 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son involved taking a trip to the drive-in to see what The Garfield Movie was all about this past weekend. Maybe it’s the joyous laughter of my children that are currently clouding my critical thinking, but I’ve got to say that I enjoyed The Garfield Movie more than I’d care to admit.

The Numbers Don’t Lie, People Want To See Garfield

The Garfield Movie

As of this writing, The Garfield Movie has a 36 percent critical score against an audience score of 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. I totally get why critics would pan this movie because they’re trying to be objective about its quality, while also being somewhat jaded for essentially having to watch kids movies professionally when they’d probably rather be watching Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. But in order to enjoy movies that are geared toward children, you have to think like a child to really appreciate them for what they are.

What’s more, The Garfield Movie has so far pulled $197.3 million against its reported budget of $60 million, meaning that either kids are doing a great job getting their parents to take them to the movies, or it’s a good film that people actually want to see.

Creative Liberties For The Better

The Garfield Movie

As for The Garfield Movie’s storytelling, there’s really not a whole lot that filmmakers can do to effectively adapt a Jim Davis comic strip about an apathetic tabby cat who hates Mondays even though he doesn’t have a job.

Through the obnoxious character archetype that we’re all by now familiar with, Chris Pratt‘s portrayal of the lasagna-munching menace under Mark Dindal’s direction takes a considerable amount of creative liberties, which somehow allows for a narrative that has some emotional depth to it. Yes, Garfield loves eating and antagonizing, but his life is turned upside down when he’s reunited with his estranged father, Vic (Samuel L. Jackson), by happenstance. What starts out as a story about a pudgy cat who drains his owner of his resources and sanity ends up becoming an epic kidnapping heist with the best kind of Mission: Impossible-style stunts that modern CGI has to offer.

Even Garfield Deserves One Last Job

The Garfield Movie

That is to say, the conflict and humor that The Garfield Movie offers leans into the “I hate Mondays” attitude that Garfield has annoyed us with for decades by pushing him out of his comfort zone as he finds himself coming to terms with his abandonment, identity, and the meaning of both his found and biological families.

When Garfield is kidnapped by a Persian cat named Jinx (Hannah Waddingham), he’s reunited with his father, Vic, who abandoned him when he was a child. Vic is directly responsible for Jinx being incarcerated for years after a botched dairy heist, and Jinx wants to be made whole by forcing Garfield and Vic to do one last job. Having to overcome his own sense of apathy and resentment, Garfield reluctantly helps Vic orchestrate a milk-stealing heist to get back in Jinx’s good graces and avoid further fallout.

Delivery Drones Save The Day

The premise to The Garfield Movie sounds incredibly stupid (it is), but for some reason it just works. Through their misadventures, Garfield and Vic overcome their differences, befriend a captive bull named Otto (Ving Rhames), make daring escapes through the use of mobile food delivery drones, train-hop, and run from an unhinged Animal Control officer named Marge (Cecily Strong). If The Garfield Movie milk still sounds too rancid for you to drink, Snoop Dogg voices a wise-cracking Main Coon with an eye patch named Maurice and lands some serious zingers.

Add a healthy amount of slap-stick and subtle adult humor to the Meow Mix, and The Garfield Movie sticks the landing even though it’s an inherently corny movie.

Your Kids Will Love It, And You’ll Sort Of Like It


I’m going to attempt to save face here, and admit that I’m not going to throw down money to go see The Garfield Movie in theaters again. However, it’s harmless, dumb fun that the whole family can enjoy, and my kids will be streaming the title constantly when it drops on Netflix this coming fall. If anything, it’ll give me a break from Moana and Blippi for a couple weeks, so I have to give credit where it’s due.