The fat, lazy, lasagna loving cat of Jim Davis’ long running comic strip returns to theaters for a second semi-comedic romp in Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. A sure sign of complete creative bankruptcy in any sequel, this time the action shifts overseas to England, where Garfield (voiced by Bill Murray) is given the opportunity to do the usual European vacation things, including a pit stop at Buckingham Palace where his dog pal Odie pees on the stoic royal guards.
What’s Garfield doing in London? It doesn’t matter, getting Garfield to that locale is just an excuse to plug in a long lost twin storyline, in which Jon Arbuckle’s (Breckin Meyer) pet fat cat is mistaken for a royal fat cat named Prince (voiced by Tim Curry). The two end up switching places. Garfield lives the good life as ruler of his own castle complete with servants, while Prince has his first ever encounter with Lasagna and discovers that yes, it really is quite good.
A Tale of Two Kitties really suffers from the same problem as the first movie. There’s still not much of a script. It’s low effort writing, cheap jokes, and poorly connected bits strung out for ninety minutes. It’s kind of a shame, because the casting is pretty genius. Breckin Meyer isn’t much of a talent, but he’s perfect as the blank, somewhat dimwitted Jon we’re all familiar with from the comic strip. And who better to play the voice of a lazy, slobbish, self-absorbed cat than Bill Murray? They’ve even gotten Tim Curry on board for the sequel, you usually can’t go wrong with him. But it’s all wasted, as the jokes fall flat and listless. Director Tim Hill and his crew aren’t even trying, not that there’s much in Joel Cohen and Alex Sokolow’s script to try with.
If there’s one really bright spot in Garfield 2 it’s Billy Connolly as the villainous Dargis. He’s not much of a cat lover, and in order to inherit his Aunt’s estate he’ll have to kill Prince, who after the switcheroo is played by Garfield. Billy’s worked for a long time as an unheralded character actor in all kinds of movies; everything from The Last Samurai to Muppet Treasure Island. He’s consistently genius, even here in this waste of space flick. His physically comedic performance in Garfield 2 is so good that it carries shades of John Cleese back in his heyday. It’s like a flashback to Cleese in Clockwise. Whenever Connolly’s on screen hamming it up, A Tale of Two Kitties almost has something. Whenever he isn’t, both kitties seem lost.
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