Garfield: The Movie

Garfield: The Movie

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Stephanie Wolfe Murray's film review of Garfield: The Movie

No one asked Jim Davis, "Why Garfield?" It seems an obvious question. Why not Marmaduke? Or Rockwell?

Garfield: The Movie DVD centres around the phenomenon that is Garfield Marketing Inc (it's not called that, actually), a $120billion industry, and the man who created it, the self-effacing, shy Mr D.

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Once you start crunching numbers, the mind boggles. In 2002, Garfield became the most syndicated strip cartoon in the world, according to The Guinness Book of Records. It sells in 111 countries and is read by 460 million people a day.

Despite untold wealth, Davis appears to be a modest, decent sort, only too pleased to sit in front of a blazing log fire and talk about how it started. He seems as amazed by Garfield's success as anyone. Why should an overweight, lazy, selfish, opinionated, spoilt, pampered, marmalade moggie become so popular? "I gave him all the human failings," Davis says, apologetically.

The Birth Of Garfield is a biopic featurette, in which Davis divulges his early life as a sickly, asthmatic child, growing up on a farm, close to James Dean's hometown. It was a hard working, simple life, where young Jim entertained himself by drawing. At school, he was a daydreamer and doodler, while later freelanced in public relations, wrote speeches and dabbled in radio commercials. Later, he was taken on as an assistant with the Tumbleweed comic strip.

His first attempt at doing it on his own was in the local paper with Gnorm Gnat, but it didn't take off. "No one can relate to bugs," he was told. He looked around at what was out there and all he could see was comic dogs. Not a cat in sight. And that did it. He spent months experimenting with Garfield's look and character. "It was nearly a year before I showed the strip to anyone." In 1978, Garfield was launched in a few provincial papers and, like Topsy, it grew.

The other featurettes follow a more traditional pattern. The Birth is Jim's story. The Rise investigates the Garfield merchandising miracle, everything from tea towels to toupees. From Strip To Script is about the film and how Garfield was created by a CGI team of over 100. Actors have their two minutes. The British director Peter Hewitt appears surprisingly unflustered, while the dog handler looks worried. Everyone is allowed to introduce themselves and say what they do. It's well done, informative and fun. The only sadness is that Bill Murray stayed away.

This is a fine example of what DVD extras should be doing. One of the most memorable moments is when an excitable teenager gasps, "Mr Davis allowed me to give him a hug and I almost passed out," at Garfield's 25th Birthday Bash.

It's so Jimmy Stewart, you can't help but love it.

Reviewed on: 11 Dec 2004
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Garfield: The Movie packshot
Lazy strip cartoon cat is put out of joint by the arrival of an orphan puppy.
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Product Code: 25007DVD

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85 Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: The Birth Of Garfield; The Rise Of Garfield; Garfield: From Strip To Script; illustrated technical commentary; multi-angle content

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