GARFIELD GETS REAL
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Frank Welker as GARFIELD
Gregg Berger as ODIE
Jason Marsden as NERMAL
Audrey Wasilewski as ARLENE
Wally Wingert as JON
Directed by: Mark A.Z. Dippe
BY KEVIN CARR
I will be the first to admit that I didn’t like the theatrical Garfield films that much. The first one was downright dreadful, and the sequel was only a mild improvement. So to say that this new computer animated DVD feature is better than the theatrical tripe isn’t saying much.
However, I will defend “Garfield Gets Real” quite a bit. Rather than changing things for no pragmatic reason, as was done in the theatrical releases, this direct-to-DVD movie actually retains much of the spirit of the Garfield comic.
In this film, we see Garfield and his buddies as working stiffs in a cartoon factory. Rather than just existing as they do in the comic strip, they go to work every day, in a Hollywood studio setting, to make the strip like they’re making a feature film. However, when Garfield sees a way to portal into the real world, he throws his whole world out of whack.
This film isn’t flawless, but it’s the closest you’re going to get to the true Garfield spirit since Paws, Inc. started making animated television specials in the early 1980s. At the very least, unlike the theatrical films, “Garfield Gets Real” retains the actual characters from the comics. Garfield is Garfield. Odie is Odie. And Nermal is Nermal. They’re just in a slightly different hyper-comic-reality setting.
The animation is what you would expect from a direct-to-DVD studio release. It’s not nearly as crude as some of the preschool programming on television, but it is by no means comparable to Pixar’s films. However, now the CGI has become a standard in animation, general audiences aren’t watching them for the wow value any more.
Of course, the real judge of a movie like “Garfield Gets Real” isn’t some tubby middle-aged reviewer. It’s kids, and my kids love this film. That speaks volumes to its impact.
The DVD comes with several behind-the-scenes featurettes showing the actual production of the Garfield strip, the voices behind the characters and the CGI animation process. There are also a few games, one for the DVD set-top and two for DVD-ROM.