This is lowest common denominator movie-making. Why not, it’s based on a lowest-common denominator comic strip.
Garfield’s lighter-than-air comic strip is utterly generic because its motivating force is not art or comedy but commerce; the less distinctive the character or situations, the better suited to appearing on everything from greeting cards and car air freshener to pizza and slot machines. Garfield is not a cat; he is a brand, as this excellent article in Slate explains.
Thus, we have this sequel, like the first movie, designed to work appeal to as broad an audience as possible in and outside the US. So the focus is on crude jokes that are universally understood and not much attention is paid to details like the fact that the title recalls Charles Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” but the plot is taken from Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper.” Or that some of the animals are animated and some are real; some can talk and some cannot.
Garfield (the computer animated cat with the voice of Bill Murray) and Odie (an actual dog with no human voice) stow away when their owner, Jon (Breckin Meyer) flies to London to propose to his girlfriend, Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt), a vet. Garfield changes places with his look-alike, a fat orange tabby named Prince (the very plummy voice of Tim Curry) who is even more pampered than he is. When Dargis (Billy Connelly) tries to get rid of Prince so he can inherit a huge estate, he is in for double trouble.
It’s all obvious and synthetic, derivative to the point of plagiarism (there is a “mirror” scene lifted from both Duck Soup and “I Love Lucy”), but those who are happy just to see animals talk and bad guys get hit in the crotch will find some mild enjoyment.
Parents should know that the movie has some crude humor, including bathroom jokes and a dog biting a character in the crotch. There are some rude schoolyard terms and there is some comic peril and violence, including characters being threatened with a gun and a crossbow, but no one is hurt.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Prince and Garfield are so important to their owners. And they should make some lasagna!
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and the many books of Garfield cartoons.