3 Things Parents Should Know about The Garfield Movie

Michael Foust

Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
Published May 24, 2024
3 Things Parents Should Know about The Garfield Movie

Garfield is a mischievous yet charming cat living his best life at home with his canine sidekick, Odie, and their owner, Jon.

He sleeps when he wants. He eats when he wants. He gets all the pizza and lasagna a feline could ever desire.

Soon, though, Garfield’s world is turned upside down when a couple of gangsters -- in truth, a massive dog and his scrawny associate -- kidnap Garfield and Odie in the dead of night and take them to their outpost, where they are hung upside down and left to ponder their fate.

But just as soon as they’re kidnapped, they’re rescued by another mysterious figure -- a middle-aged cat named Vic -- who claims he’s been watching the duo and has a vested interest in their safety.

And then the story grows stranger. Vic, we learn, is Garfield’s father. As Garfield remembers it, he abandoned him in a dark alley as a kitten.

Vic has a plan to help Garfield and Odie escape the gangsters, but Garfield’s not buying it.

“You lost the privilege of telling me what to do a long time ago,” Garfield says.

Will the two ever reconcile?

The Garfield Movie (PG) follows the story of Garfield, Vic, and Odie as they encounter another strange character, an evil cat named Jinx, who drags the trio into a covert operation that threatens their safety. It features the voices of Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Hannah Waddingham, and Cecily Strong.

Here are three things parents should know:

Warning: spoilers!

Photo credit: ©Sony; used with permission.

The Garfield Movie

1. It’s a Backstory and a Modern Tale

The Garfield Movie, of course, is based on the famous comic strip by Jim Davis that first published in 1978 and has been going ever since. It’s the third Garfield movie, following Garfield: The Movie (2004) and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006), a pair of live-action/computer animation films. The Garfield Movie is animated. (Davis is an executive producer.)

The film is part backstory and part modern tale. We learn how Jon found Garfield. (Jon was eating alone in an Italian restaurant when a cute kitty—Garfield—approached him begging for food. Realizing the cat had no owner, Jon took him back to his apartment, even though pets were prohibited. They eventually moved to a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house.

The modern story is more complex. The evil cat Jinx says she’ll release Garfield, Vic and Odie but only if they break into a local dairy called “Lactose Farms” and steal 1,675 quarts of milk for her. (Why, you ask? That’s how many days she was in jail for previously trying to steal milk, and she blames Vic, a former partner in crime, for her capture.) You likely didn’t expect a heist movie, did you?

Photo credit: ©Sony; used with permission.

The Garfield Movie

2. It’s about Trials, Pain, and Reconciliation

The broken relationship between Garfield and his father is the plot’s core. As Garfield recalls, he was a tiny kitten when his father placed him in a dark alley on a rainy night and told him he’d be right back … only never to return.

“You can’t make up for five years of not being around,” Garfield tells him.

Throughout the movie, Garfield harbors resentment toward his dad, and throughout the film, his father tries his best to win back his son's heart. Their arguments never cross into uncomfortable territory, but their spats will still resonate deeply with many moviegoers -- some of whom will identify with the father-son duo. Humor often cuts the tension (such as when the two are tied to a tree and forced to talk).

Thankfully, Vic and Garfield provide hope for estranged family members, even if their details are far tidier than most real-life situations. (Vic, we learn, didn’t abandon Garfield. He even checked in on his son by secretly watching him through a window at Garfield’s home.)

Reconciliation in the real world is often messy, but it’s nevertheless God’s will (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Photo credit: ©Sony; used with permission.

The Garfield Movie

3. It’s about Love and New Beginnings

Vic, Garfield, and Odie find much-needed help for their heist at Lactose Farms through the help of Otto, a bull who was put out to pasture years earlier when a big corporation bought the farm. That takeover meant Otto was separated from his beloved, Ethel. Otto promises to help Garfield and his friends break into the farm if they help him reunite with her.

Thanks to the heist plot and multiple chase scenes, The Garfield Movie lacks the laid-back charm of the comic strip and the TV series. (One of those, Garfield and Friends, ran from the late 1980s through the early 1990s.)

But it does have plenty to offer families. It contains no sexuality, no coarse language (minus a “bloody”), and only Looney Tunes-style violence. It contains plenty of solid lessons, including a laser-like focus on reconciliation that our divided culture needs. (Toward the end, Garfield invites his father over to the house for dinner.) It contains plenty of laughs, too. (Jon phones “Find My Pet” and is given options for English, Spanish and Pig Latin.)

The Garfield Movie likely won’t be the best family film of the summer, but it's worth a watch for parents who need a kid-friendly option.

Rated PG for action/peril and mild thematic elements.

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Photo credit: ©Sony; used with permission.

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Originally published Friday, 24 May 2024.