Jim Davis and his creations have delighted children of all ages for years, and stopped entertaining them sometime in the 1990s. Garfield was a highly popular comic and cartoon character while Davis' other creations, the farm creatures of U.S. Acres, hopped the train to fame and somehow wedged their way into the CBS Saturday Morning program of years gone by. When the voice of the voice of the animated character Lorenzo Music in 2001, that seemed to be it-- we went 10 years without hearing of Garfield aside from the newspaper comic that was always a recycled gag about lasagna or kicking Odie, and it seemed the character had retreated back to the newspapers from whence he came. At some point, the readers of the comic grew up, the gags became stale, and you could boil everything down to some motivational poster.
Garfield: The Movie
Random House Audio
Taking a cue from those motivational posters seems to be Garfield The Movie, and the audiobook indicates that someone out there was paying attention to several of them, with gags that may or may not have made the movie. Emphasis on "gag." The story is read by Edward Herrmann, who according to IMDB was in a number of movies and TV shows that nobody has seen. Herrmann reads the book with what you'd expect of an actor reading a book on tape, and it's assumed the voices will not match up with the movie voices. Nermal, a grey kitten, is now a siamese with an accent that seems to have been outsourced somewhere in Bangladesh. Garfield sounds like Mr. Howell, the millionaire from Gilligan's Island. All the women sound exactly a like, but I heard this is typical for audiobooks.
The story follows what I can only assume is the plot of the film, with the first of two CDs being almost entirely exposition. In a little over an hour, we find out that Garfield is fat, Garfield is lazy, and a variety of other things you knew prior to purchasing your ticket. Odie is introduced, then runs away, is dognapped, is found, and oh, like every animal in the book is there to take revenge on the villain, who is voiced by Herrmann to have the kind of voice I would actually expect a villain on a Garfield cartoon to have.
The book itself sounds a lot like one of the old book-and-record sets you may have had as a kid, minus the book. It's very chipper sounding and for a while, seemed like something you would give your kids. There's a few lines that seem-- intentionally or otherwise-- very adult for the character, and since you probably won't be buying this, here they are.
One, there's a scene in which Garfield is hitting on Arlene, another cat, and when she brushes him off he starts professing his love to a pie he spies. Nothing too special here, as this gag has been done before. What's creepy is that Arlene thinks he's talking to her, and when he goes on about getting some of "that pie," she thinks he means her and she's totally into it.
At one point, Garfield is lost in the city. The highlight here is when Garfield is cornered by a family of rats in the city. One of the rats says grace. "Thank you Lord for the puss upon which we are about to gnaw." That's a quote.
As I sold off the bulk of my Garfield comics and haven't read them since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I can't verify this but the plot may have been lifted from the various comics and cartoons over the years. As I don't care to verify this, take my word on this as fact and move on.
I knew up front that I am not the audience for this, that I would not like this, and that this is not something I would enjoy nor would I advise you to buy. So why listen to it? Overwhelming curiosity. It's an audiobook of a novelization movie of a comic that usually never has a story arc more than three panels long, and the advertising for the flick has been horrendous with puns and awful one-liners like "It's all about me-ow" and "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful." I can't imagine anyone really excited to get this above the age of eight really enjoying the prospect of this release, and they'd be wanting to see the movie anyway. I can only assume the movie would be slightly more tolerable, but I should note I have a huge affinity for viewing cinematic train wreck.
May 17, 2004