I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Garfield

the asshole cat

Man, what a fuckin week. On Tuesday Bush got either “re”-elected or re-“elected,” and I’ve been stumbling around muttering to myself ever since. Stabbing at my porridge with my spoon, staring blankly out the window, mouthing the word “why” to myself over and over again. One thing I know, there are some things in this world that just cannot be explained. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes people vote for a president that couldn’t be trusted to put on his own pants. And sometimes a guy gets the blue state blues, walks around town in a daze, suddenly finds himself at home having rented the movie “GARFIELD,” not really knowing how or why. I know for a fact this happens because you’re lookin at the guy who it happened to. Me. It was weird.

What this is is a movie based on the popular comic strip from the 1980s called Garfield. Like all comic strips it is not funny and about a talking animal. This is a cat called Garfield who is orange. The thing about Garfield, he is real fucking fat, he eats lasagna. That’s funny because real cats eat cat food, but this one also eats lasagna. Also he says “I hate Mondays” at the beginning although this does not turn out to be important. But it is that sort of detailed characterization that makes him, you know, Garfield. I guess.

GarfieldI mean, think about it. Why the fuck is a cat gonna hate mondays. Especially this particular cat, this Garfield. What he does, he sleeps, he eats, etc. For a cat, even a talking, dancing asshole cat like this, he is not gonna give a fuck if it’s Tuesday, Thursday, the 12th of February, anything. It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t have to work. He doesn’t have to get out of bed. Every day of the year is the weekend to him. There is no beginning of the week for a cat with that particular lazy asshole cat type of lifestyle. Even when he is expected to eat a mouse, he just fakes it. There is no fuckin reason this cat even knows what Monday is, let alone hates it. And yet he says it explicitly that he hates Mondays. You see. That is why it is funny. Because why would he hate Mondays. Oh, that Garfield the asshole cat. He hates Mondays.

The weirdest thing about Garfield, he looks like some kind of fucked up Nazi medical experiment or something. Like they took an ordinary cat but painted him bright orange, surgically removed his skeleton, injected him with 15 pounds of human assfat and then gave him a new plastic skeleton with a skull designed to contain a pair of huge, wet, human eyes the size of baseballs. I don’t think that’s really how they did it for the movie, but that’s what it looks like. They might’ve used a real cat wearing a padded suit or something but I think it was probaly computers. But I think this is a poor and unethical use of computers. You gotta make up your mind if it’s real or cartoon, you can’t do both. It is real unnatural to see a wacky cartoon cat wearing real fur.

Anyway, Garfield is a cat who lives with his owner John. This is a guy who has no job or activities. His only interests are his pets and the hot veterinarian he’s had a crush on since high school. In the opening shot we see a collection of photos of John, and in every single one he is holding Garfield. Now it would be weird enough for a guy to be that obsessed with his cat, but especially this particular cat. Because this cat is a total asshole. He steals John’s food, flushes the toilet when he’s in the shower, destroys all of the furniture, constantly pushes the puppy off the chair, scratches him, or beats him with a pillow, even bullies the other cats in the neighborhood. He just watches TV all day and never leaves the house. He eats too much, he burps too much, he sleeps too much and insists on having his own bed and even a god damn teddy bear.

And he fucking whines. He is constantly complaining from the first minute of the movie to the last. Nothing is good enough for Garfield. He hates everyone and everything. Except himself. John pampers him so much he even makes home made lasagna for him, and lasagna is a pretty time intensive pasta in my opinion. But even that’s not good enough for fucking Garfield. And he makes bad puns too. He makes Elvis jokes and JERRY MAGUIRE references. He says lines like “I think I’m going to blow cat chow chunks” and “maybe I’ll get a CAT scan.”

When Garfield disappears for a while, you’d think John would breathe a sigh of relief. But he’s like one of those common law wives you see on COPS all the time, he thinks he loves his abusive cat because he says, “I can’t live without Garfield.”

Another thing that is weird, Garfield never shuts up (he has the voice of academy award nominee Bill Murray) but John has no idea that he talks. Only animals can hear animals talk, not humans. But paradoxically, animals can hear humans talk. Whooooah. It’s not explained if the humans can see that Garfield’s mouth is moving or that he is always gesturing and dancing around and crap.

At first I couldn’t tell if John could hear Garfield or not, so when I realized he couldn’t, I started thinking maybe there was some twist where John is actually a ghost, or Garfield is actually a ghost. I’m not sure which way it would work.

Anyway, since this is a movie about pet animals, that means a bad guy is gonna steal a dog. It happened in AIR BUD and it happens here. And it’s Garfield’s fault, so the one positive thing he does in the movie is go clean up his own mess. For the first 45 minutes nothing really happens, he just sits around the house, sort of a slice of life kind of deal. I almost thought it was supposed to be like FRIDAY but with a freaky looking obese asshole talking cat. Then the puppy gets stolen, and this Garfield finally gets up off his fat cat ass and makes the courageous move of leaving the god damn house. Then he goes on an epic adventure that involves going to a building where the dog is, etc.

Alot of the comedy in this movie is Garfield runs around, he falls, there is screaming. At one point he runs up a lady’s dress. And then he’ll say something about an HMO or a primary care provider or something like that. Because what would a cat know about health care? That’s why it’s funny. Ha ha, the cat said HMO. It’s like in those cartoons where they put in jokes that the adults will understand and the kids won’t. But here it’s not jokes, it’s just words.

In a way this is the perfect movie for the 2004 election. Garfield is a horrible, useless asshole bully. But the music tells us he’s some kind of charmer and I guess the movie made a bunch of money. So apparently everybody loves this asshole. There is nobody on earth that could explain why Garfield is supposed to be a lovable character, but there he is. Just like Bush with his 51% mandate. Hooray. God bless America. I think that’s what it’s supposed to be about, isn’t it?

No, probaly not. But the key to the meaning of GARFIELD may lie in presidential history. President James A. Garfield was only president for 200 days before he died. He was shot by a lawyer who thought God told him to do it. The bullet itself didn’t do much damage, but the doctors couldn’t find it in there. They had Alexander Graham Bell make them a metal detector to find it, but he mistakenly detected the springs in the matress beneath the president. The doctors dug around so much they created a huge infected wound which caused the heart attack that killed Garfield. Which, hmmm, I’m not sure if that has any parallels to the story in this movie.

Man, I gotta be honest, I don’t think I really get this movie GARFIELD. I’m not sure what the deal is. I listened to some of the director and producer commentary track but they never really get into explaining what the deal is. I mean, I guess they sort of do. In one part the producer says, “Now, this is a really fun sequence in the picture, because Garfield is about to destroy the lasagna.” That pretty much explains this movie, I guess.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, November 7th, 2004 at 12:38 pm and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Family, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

28 Responses to “Garfield”

  1. While nobody in our family really liked the movie, my sister was totally freaked out by the fact that everybody was carrying this fat cat around, like he would be made out of feathers! Our Cat, who looked still slimmer than Garfield, weighed 16 pounds* and was seriously difficult to carry around! But nobody seemed to care in the movie.
    BTW, if you think it’s already tiresome to hear Bill Murray talk non-stop, I can assure you that the German dubbing is worse. Garfield’s voice is here Thomas Gottschalk, a popular showmaster and non-actor who you might probably know from movies like “Harry & Harriet”, “Trabbi Goes To Hollywood” a.k.a. “Driving Me Crazy” or “Sister Act 2”. (I also think he’s in the new Adam Sandler/Kevin James movie.)
    Why am I telling you this? Because January 1st has always been the most boring day of the year and I got seriously nothing else to say.

    *No, it wasn’t all fat. He was seriously big! Our Vet had the suspicion that he might have some wildcat genes.

  2. Since this is one of vern’s Classic Reviews, referenced more than few others on this sight, this snippet of a Bill Murray interview where he talks about why he took the role is worth sharing. The interviewer is in bold (if I have my tags right) and Murray is in normal typeface.

    Okay. Well, how about Garfield? Can you explain that to me? Did you just do it for the dough?

    No! I didn’t make that for the dough! Well, not completely. I thought it would be kind of fun, because doing a voice is challenging, and I’d never done that. Plus, I looked at the script, and it said, “So-and-so and Joel Coen.” And I thought: Christ, well, I love those Coens! They’re funny. So I sorta read a few pages of it and thought, Yeah, I’d like to do that. I had these agents at the time, and I said, “What do they give you to do one of these things?” And they said, “Oh, they give you $50,000.” So I said, “Okay, well, I don’t even leave the fuckin’ driveway for that kind of money.”

    And it’s not like you’re helping out an indie director by playing Garfield.

    Exactly. He’s in 3,000 newspapers every day; he’s not hurtin’. Then this studio guy calls me up out of nowhere, and I had a nice conversation with him. No bullshit, no schmooze, none of that stuff. We just talked for a long time about the movie. And my agents called on Monday and said, “Well, they came back with another offer, and it was nowhere near $50,000.” And I said, “That’s more befitting of the work I expect to do!” So they went off and shot the movie, and I forgot all about it. Finally, I went out to L.A. to record my lines. And usually when you’re looping a movie, if it takes two days, that’s a lot. I don’t know if I should even tell this story, because it’s kind of mean. [beat] What the hell? It’s interesting. So I worked all day and kept going, “That’s the line? Well, I can’t say that.” And you sit there and go, What can I say that will make this funny? And make it make sense? And I worked. I was exhausted, soaked with sweat, and the lines got worse and worse. And I said, “Okay, you better show me the whole rest of the movie, so we can see what we’re dealing with.” So I sat down and watched the whole thing, and I kept saying, “Who the hell cut this thing? Who did this? What the fuck was Coen thinking?” And then they explained it to me: It wasn’t written by that Joel Coen.

    http://www.gq.com/entertainment/celebrities/201008/bill-murray-dan-fierman-gq-interview

    Yup. So, if you want to take Bill Murray at face value, he did Garfield because he thought it was going to be a Coen Brothers’ movie.

  3. I think it’s either a joke or BS. If that’s the case why did he then do _another_ GARFIELD film? That would seem like a very logical follow-up question, but I guess it aint one that’s gonna be asked by a synophant interviewer.

  4. _Sycophant_ interviewer

  5. I can imagine he did the sequel because his contract for part 1 forced him to do it or he said to himself: “Shit, at least they pay me enough so that I can do this great Jim Jarmusch movie without having to worry about paying the rent for the next few months.”

  6. Yeah, I think it’s probably BS too, Pacman, but reading the interview Murray comes off as a little disconnected from things, so it’s possible. Guy’s never even seen two episodes of Seinfeld!

  7. The unfortunate event in Bill Murray’s career, also known by many (me) as the Garfield fiasco, IS an atrocious period that is likely to scar the ghostbuster hero’s reputation. However, I can’t fathom the thought of “Bill Fuckin’ Murray”s legendary profile being tarnished by the horrific Attempts of Coen to write a movie about a cat. An overweight, ginger, arrogant, self-righteous cock of a cat. This is why I am leaving this for anyone who decides to read the comments post-review:

    Zombieland (great film): as Bill murray is dying from Jesse Eisenbergs shotgun shell to the stomach

    Abigail Breslin: So, do you have any regrets?
    Bill FUCKIN’ Murray: Garfield, maybe…

    That is all :)
    A x

  8. its firs date to this blog, its nice ! keep work…..

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  10. bestelkado.nl - normaal

    December 7th, 2011 at 3:06 am

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  11. This is a smart blog. I mean it. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses. Youve got a design here thats not too flashy, but makes a statement as big as what youre saying. Great job, indeed.

  12. Sometimes I love spambots.

  13. I don’t know why I am posting this here, but on the other hand: Why not? Just for the WTF-factor. (Also I have to say that the part at 1:04 really made me laugh)

    http://youtu.be/kHIQvlfWKA4

  14. Whenever I want to read this review I google “garfield the asshole cat.” thanks Vern

  15. “Man, what a fuckin week. On Tuesday Bush got either “re”-elected or re-”elected,” and I’ve been stumbling around muttering to myself ever since. Stabbing at my porridge with my spoon, staring blankly out the window, mouthing the word “why” to myself over and over again.”

    why? because people were scared shitless and the Republicans were very smart at painting Kerry as a peace loving hippie at a time when (according to them) we needed an ass kicking cowboy to save us from the terrorists

    was it the smart decision? no, but it’s not a mystery as to why people made that decision, fear is how you control people and America’s just not a smart enough country to not fall for it

  16. Yeah, you know what? It really never occured to me before, but many of Vern’s finest reviews would work great as stand-up sets. And if you’re not convinced, then just read this particular magnum opus in Bill Hicks’ voice — I rest my case. Bless you, Vern.

  17. what does this have to do with Garfield

  18. Sorry Vern, that should’ve belonged below yesterday’s post. For some reason I thought I was there …

  19. Sorry Peter, I was trying to tease Griff about his political lecture but I accidentally put it below yours so it didn’t make sense. I understood what yours was referring to and appreciate the idea.

  20. I just thought it’d be fun to respond to 2004 era Vern’s question

  21. Yeah Garfield getting neutered by Rocket Raccoon was a real shocker. Too bad the sequel apparently didn’t consider this canon.

  22. Glad you hate Garfield. This horrible fat monster brainwashed people into hating my beloved Nermal. :( Damn you Garfield!! DAMN YOU!! >:O

  23. To this day I still have to remind myself that Nermal is male

  24. That sounded much more “furry” then I intended. What I mean is growing up I always assumed Nermal was a girl

  25. I really remember liking the CBS Saturday Morning animated version of the strip, GARFIELD & FRIENDS (though I didn’t care much for the FRIENDS part) as a kid. Funny to see this brought up again since there’s a reference on one of the episodes of the Netflix series BOJACK HORSEMAN.

  26. I’ve only read the odd GARFIELD comic in the last few years. Sounds like it’s changed a lot!

  27. I was replying to a Spambot post there BTW in case it gets deleted. But I did think of this review recently because it occurred to me many Britons are probably feeling now how Vern felt in 2004 (and for that matter, and perhaps even more so, I guess how many Republicans must have felt in November 2012)

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