Reviewed by GREG KING.
The first attempt to film a live action version of Garfield, everybody’s favourite lazy, lasagne loving feline, was something of a disappointment, especially for fans of the comic strip. The main saving grace was the casting of Bill Murray, who was the perfect choice to provide the sarcastic, droll wit of Garfield. This sequel is, thankfully, something of an improvement and is much more enjoyable.
Subtitled A Tale Of Two Kitties, and co-written by Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow (the same team behind Toy Story, the original Garfield movie, and Cheaper By The Dozen, etc) the plot borrows heavily from Mark Twain’s classic tale The Prince And The Pauper. The action has been relocated to London, which allows for some nice background scenery during a brief tour of the city.
When Garfield’s long suffering human master Jon (again played by Breckin Meyer) flies off to London to propose to his veterinarian girlfriend (Jennifer Love Hewitt, wasted in a fairly thankless role), Garfield smuggles himself along for the ride. In London he is mistaken for Prince, the pampered pussy who has inherited a sprawling mansion and its enormous gardens. But the jealous Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly) wants to rid himself of Prince so he can inherit the estate and redevelop it as a luxurious resort. Garfield rallies the menagerie of household pets, who overcome their initial distrust of this crude American “housecat”, and they try to thwart Dargis’ dastardly plans.
The idea of adding human voices to a motley collection of animals is not a new idea – after all we have had Babe, the recent Racing Stripes, and we have the forthcoming Christmas release of Charlotte’s Web. A strong cast of British actors, including Richard E Grant, Jane Horrocks, Vinnie Jones, Rhys Ifans and Sharon Osbourne, lend their voices to the animals.
Tim Curry provides the voice of Prince, while the instantly recognisable gruff Bob Hoskins provides the voice of Winston, the faithful bulldog. Even Murray seems a bit more animated this time around, and his quick wit provides plenty of laughs. As the villain of the piece, Connolly seems to be channelling John Cleese’s manic movements, and he allows himself to become the brunt of much of the film’s slapstick, physical humour.
Director Tim Hill (whose previous films include Max Keeble’s Big Move, etc) maintains a nice pace throughout, and never allows the film to become tedious or too bogged down. Younger audiences will certainly enjoy Garfield 2, as there is plenty of slapstick humour and fart jokes, but the story is just sophisticated enough to amuse older audiences as well.