Thursday, November 20, 2008

Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties

Last Friday, I babysat for one of my regular families. I ate pizza with the boys, got them in their pajamas, and settled down to watch the movie. I picked up the box, and was horrified to see the film was Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties.

I have done my best to avoid the Garfield films, since, the film looked worse then the comic has been recently (side note, to see how Garfield could be great, see It hasn't been hard to avoid, nobody in my household felt any urge to see it, except my sister, who saw it only because a friend wanted to go. To add to this, it was a sequel, so any cliched lasagna/napping/Monday related jokes which had already been used in the first, would be even more repetitive than the 30 years of lasagna/napping/Mondays. 

The cliched jokes, and cliched plot (two identical people get switched, but then find a very very good reason for wanting their own places back), were not the biggest problems with the plot. The biggest problem is with Garfield himself. 

I've recently been reading a screenwriting book called Save the Cat. The strange title comes from the author's assertion that all movies should have a save the cat moments. This is a scene, early on in a movie, where the hero does something good. Despite any flaws the character might have to work out, it establishes that deep down, he has a little good. This makes the audience want to follow the character through the movie. Garfield has no save the cat moment.  In the beginning, Garfield is fat, lazy, and a jerk. Even when he becomes a (very slightly) better cat later in the film, I didn't believe his change, and more importantly, I didn't care.

What makes this all worse, is the fact the fat cat was voiced by Bill Murray. I have nothing against Murray for taking the role, while he's been in great films like Caddyshack and Ghost Busters, he has to pay his bills somehow. My problem is this, Murray has made his career making unlikeable characters funny, and if not likable, at least entertaining. The grating antics of Garfield became even more so, knowing that Murray was behind it.

One of the better parts of babysitting is the very essence of the job. You're paid to hang out with kids (who are usually pretty nice, and if  they aren't, you don't have to babysit for them again), watching TV, and hoping nobody chokes. This also encompasses some of the worst parts of the job. Every now and again, the kids will be brats, the food is disgusting, and there's nothing good on. Or sometimes, you have to watch Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. Hey, at least the pay's good.