I've been studying films for a while now. Not only in my spare time, I have also spent three years and mucho dineros attending lectures and tutorials across two continents. And this summer I will be able to show the world I have a diploma in knowing a lot about movies. So it stands to reason I should be qualified to tell Hollywood what's what like the backseat director I am. Which is what this series of I-Mockery Shorts pieces will be about. If a movie is a financial or artistic failure, I will pick it back up and tell you all how it should have been done. First up is
Garfield the Movie.
A fat cat hanging around eating lasagna. How could it fail? I must admit I have read about ten Garfield strips the last ten years. But if anything drastic hasn't happened in the series since the days when I carried my Garfield school diary around with pride, it looks to me like they took the only good thing about it and "adapted it to appeal to the target audience". Before I further explain what this means, I have to admit one more thing: I haven't really seen this movie. But they, that's the beauty of Hollywood
Disasters: I don't have to watch a movie to tell you why I don't want to watch it. I don't remember much from my science philosophy classes, but I do believe that's a valid conclusion.
"Adapting to appeal to the target audience" is one of those Hollywood codewords. Fortunately, I received a secret decoder ring when I began my studies. What it means is basically "making it so that all the good guys are successful and pretty and wear nice clothes and if they ever get dirty they get these little smudges that somehow make them even prettier". Jon is a complete loser in the strip. Apparently, in the movie he is played by Breckin Meyer and has Garfield's vet Liz, played by Jeniffer Love-Hewitt, hitting on him all the time. If I remember correctly, about half the original strips had the vet threaten to give Jon a shot of liquid laxative straight in the eyeball if he didn't keep those dirty little loner hands to himself. This will of course not stand in Tinsel town.
Another problem the screenwriters ran into while adapting the property was the fact that Garfield usually never even rolls out of his little bed before the punchline. If the movie is anything like the trailer, CGI Garfield is an Episode II Yoda-esque blur flying from wall to wall only stopping to do an impression of Tom Cruise's character from Risky Business. Which could have been funny if they included the bit where he loses all his money to a prostitute. Cat money with president Whiskers printed on them! O ho ho!
Here's how it should have been done
1: Change the plot. The plot in the movie is as follows: Odie is kidnapped and Garfield has to rescue him. If this sounds familiar, that's because this is the exact plot of the Garfield NES game. I say stick to the old schtick. Everybody hangs around the house until Garfield has to take a shot over at the animal clinic. (How many diseases has that cat been vaccinated for by now? Africa'll have to invent some new variations of
Ebola soon if the strip is going to survive the next year.) Jon is put down by Liz, and then they go back home and Garfield eats Jon's sandwich. Roll credits.
2: Cast Philip Seymour Hoffman as Jon. I tried to think of any actors that actually look like Jon, but after I while I realized Jon doesn't have a real face. Everyone in Garfield Town has the exact same head, only some people have different hair and some lipstick. In fact, they should do an animated sequel with LEGO characters. Anyway, since nobody really looks like Jon, we'll resort to typecasting. Jon is a loner who hangs around his house all day and argues with his cat. And loses. And who is the king of losers in movies? That's right, Hoffman. I mean, take a look at his imdb profile. I don't think I've seen him in any movie where he doesn't play a sorry bastard, and I've seen a lot of them. He probably has hundred different losers inside him just waiting to take form on the silver screen.
3: Cast Jeneane Garofalo as Liz. Now, here's a perfect piece of casting if I ever saw one. In fact, you should be so sold by now that I'll just move on.
4: Keep Bill Murray as Garfield, but forget all about CGI and just put Bill in a
5: Don't make Odie a real dog. I saw a clip where CG Garfield was interacting with a live-action Odie, and if I had actually cared about Garfield I would have been shocked and disgusted. That just didn't work. So I came to thinking, what does Odie actually do in the strip? He gets kicked by Garfield is what. So why not just get a stuffed animal and have Murray kick it down from the table every ten minutes?
And that's how I would have made Garfield the Movie. Here is my illustrated vision:
You may think I'm only being flippant here, but let me assure you that I am deadly serious. If the movie had been made this way, I would go see it in the theatre, and I would buy the DVD. And I know in my heart of hearts that it would have been a better movie. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Hollywood. You better shape up before I write the next installment in this project, or I'm coming over there.