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.
I 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.