As expressed before, I have a certain fondness for Garfield. The larger than life orange tabby cat has been a staple of my comic strip reading diet for more than 20 years. I’ve watched Garfield & Friends, seen the longer animated specials, and even sat through the first of the full length movies (I couldn’t stomach the nerve for the second one). So naturally, I was a little excited when I heard that Garfield would be a full CGI showing in a new dvd called Garfield Gets Real I just hoped it would be better than what I’ve heard about the Tale of Two Kitties
Garfield has become bored with the comic strip world. He lives in his cartoon house with owner Jon and his sidekick Odie. He goes to work (yes, Garfield does work; well in a manner of speaking) with friends like Nermal and Arlene. He shoots a daily comic strip which is seen by many newspapers in the real world. However, when Odie sticks a bone through a hole that leads to the real world, Garfield realizes that this is his ticket to alleviate boredom and soon decides to go through the hole himself. Odie follows (mostly for his bone). Once there, Garfield realizes the real world is quite different from his own (despite looking very similar) despite finding a few cats and dogs to hang out with. Trouble ensues when the newspaper starts looking for a replacement strip and then it is only a matter of time before Garfield is desperately trying to find his way home.
Now I know exactly how newspaper comic strips are made. Garfield is real (not really) and does three scenes a day which are magically changed into a comic strip. It’s all so clear. The movie is pretty cool as well. It’s wonderful of what happens when you get beautiful animation coupled with some of the most amazing voiceover talent that can be found anywhere. The intended audience for this flic is a very young one, especially those who range in ages from under 5 to maybe a smidgen before 9 or 10. However, it is still something that can be appreciated by adults with a few cool gags and Garfield as the cat we have come to enjoy over the years. The other characters are also very delightful and varied and run the gambit in types and personalities. I also appreciated the cameos of Dagwood and Grimm from Mother Goose & Grimm.
The film is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The animation and graphics in this completely computer generated film are something of wonder. It is flat out beautiful and will certainly sell to any kid who is amazed by bright colors and a fun interactive world. It is also appealing to adults with high end systems who are looking for something to fill in the HD experience. It’s not perfect but it isn’t far from it.
5.1 Dolby Digital Mixes are provided for both English, French and Spanish crowds. The sound is not quite as strong as the animation but it is a fun romp and uses the surrounds as well as can be expected. They do take some care to do various tricks like talking off center from another room or creating a realistic fire simulation. Subtitles are also provided in English, French and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: Carebears: Oopsy does it, Firehouse Dog, Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Dreams Movie & Fantastic Four Volume 2(why must they create dvds of cartoon shows and only include 4 episodes on one dvd?)
- Pencils, Paws & Ink: Creating the Garfield Comic Strip 5:41: A little trip to the Garfield comic strip creation studio. Jim Davis spends some time with us as does his Penciler, Inker & Color guy explaining the ins and outs of the creation process. Interesting note, but both the Penciler & Inker are both left handed and wear cloth gloves to make sure their body oils don’t get onto the strip. I’ve always had that problem when I scribble notes in pen. Might have to look into that.
- Jim Davis: Raw & Un-Cat 7:04: A brief talk with Jim Davis and how Garfield gets Real came to be.
- The Animation Process 5:35: A more of the behind the scenes look at the animated feature. There are going to be three movies over 2 years and I know I’m looking forward to the other two.
- Legends Working Together 4:40: As mentioned, the voiceover talent in Garfield Gets Real is amazing as is spotlighted by the top two characters. Legends in the biz, Frank Welker as Garfield and Greg Berger as Odie & Shecky highlight the lengthy list. Personally, the live action movies might have been better if Bill Murray had not done the voice of the orange tabby.
- Bloopers: The Voice in Our Heads 1:49: A classic should have been longer featurette of the voiceover talents going crazy on the mic in some very funny moments when they flub their lines.
- Finding Your Voice 6:05: More good stuff from the voiceover talent, this time they go into how they create voices and the inspiration that they receive to form those vocal talents from the scripts they receive.
- Animating From the Seoul 4:22: How the US Studio works with its counterparts in Seoul, Korea. Way to highlight the cheap labor! Seriously, though a somewhat interesting look at video conferencing overseas if nothing else.
- Garfield Games: Don’t Be Late: This is a simple search and find game where you find items for Garfield. See he’s late for work and you have to find everything on the list in the right order before he can get there. Cute for the kids.
- DVD Rom Games: Punt the Pooch & Whack – A – WaWa: In one flash game, you see how far you can kick Odie with Garfield’s foot and in the other you are playing their variation of Whack a Mole except it’s Odie, he has a bone and he’s whacking Chihuahuas (a humorous sub plot in the movie). More cute fun for the kiddies.
A lot of people will want to debase the film from the on-set because of the comparison to the live action films. Rest assured, this is an entirely new project with new people. They make extremely little mention of those movies in the extras and with good reason. Garfield gets Real is a fun movie that you can watch with your kids and relieve what made Garfield so fun. Good gags and a pleasing story. The DVD is also tip top with fantastic video and very good audio. The extras are certainly decent but I would have liked even more time with the voiceover cast or perhaps a full blown interview with Jim Davis. I do look forward to the 2nd and 3rd movies in the series and hope they flesh out more of Garfield’s character. He’s better than Heathcliff and Tom has got nothing on him. Recommended especially for the little ones.