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Friday, June 23, 2006

Garfield: A Tail Of Two Kitties

Garfield Starring: Bill Murray, Brecklin Myer

It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.

Sorry, couldn't help it. With a title like Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, the bad Dickens puns are irresistible - and in this case, apropos.

Bill Murray is back in this part-animated, part-live-action sequel to 2004's Garfield, inspired by the Jim Davis comic strip, again providing the voice of America's best-known overfed cat.

Despite his droll delivery and a couple of amusing lines here and there, Murray can't wring many laughs out of the mostly lame script from returning writers Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow. (Garfield plays air guitar and sings along to Ted Nugent's blaring Cat Scratch Fever, for example. Kids might like it, but adults will be bored.)

Garfield: A Tail Of Two Kitties
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Tim Hill, whose credits include Muppets from Space and Max Keeble's Big Move, is the director; his filmography should tell you all you need to know about his fondness for subtlety.

This time, Garfield follows his owner, Jon (Breckin Meyer), to England to try to stop him from proposing to his girlfriend _ a famous veterinarian with an important speaking engagement played by Jennifer Love Hewitt. (OK, that part IS pretty funny.)

Having stowed away in a carry-on bag with Jon's dimwitted dog, Odie, Garfield proceeds to visit all the obligatory London tourist sites and make tired, smart-alecky remarks along the way.

But while he's there, he's mistaken for a big, orange cat who looks just like him (voiced by Tim Curry) who just happens to be a prince named Prince.

Billy Connolly gamely plays the buffoonish nephew trying to oust Prince and take over the castle the royal cat has just inherited. Meanwhile, Bob Hoskins, Jane Leeves, Rhys Ifans and Jane Horrocks are among the actors whose talents are wasted lending their voices to talking barnyard animals.

Babe, it ain't. But Winston the sad-faced bulldog, who was Prince's right-hand man, looks so ridiculous speaking through his droopy, drooly underbite in Hoskins' thick British accent, he's good for a laugh every time.

Then again, so was Mr. Beefy, Adam Sandler's subversive bulldog in Little Nicky _ which didn't exactly help that movie qualify as great cinema, either.

But Garfield does have one vaguely redeeming quality: An extended cooking sequence in the castle's elaborate kitchen will make you hungry for lasagna, the feline's favorite dish.

*Review by Christy Lemire, Associated Press


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