| Hot in Hollywood: Jack Nicholson (top) and Garfield
Los Angeles, June 9 (Reuters): Hollywood has all sorts of cats. Cool cats like Jack Nicholson and Pussycat Doll Carmen Electra.
On Friday, it gets fussy, rebellious, selfish, ego-driven fat cat Garfield. He fits right in.
Garfield: The Movie hits theatres with one goal in mind: cracking wise. And the creator of the daily comic strip about the tiger-striped tabby with a mind for mischief and a taste for lasagna said he would not have it any other way.
“The movie is designed to do one thing, and that’s make people laugh,” Jim Davis said.
“I only get 25 words or less everyday. What happens when Garfield gets 85 minutes. It’s another way to entertain ... and, therefore, another challenge,” Davis said.
For 25 years, Davis has sat in front of his drawing board and delighted fans with his observations of normal people and everyday life funneled through the mind of the curmudgeonly cat, who is owned by the fictional Jon Arbuckle.
Garfield is syndicated in 2,600 newspapers worldwide and read by some 260 million people. He plays pranks, which kids like.
He is independent, which appeals to teens.
He sits in his chair all day, watching TV and eating. Adults dig that.
Davis said he wasn’t interested in seeing a movie made specifically for any of those niche audiences.
Doing so would be popular among Hollywood producers because it helps define an audience, thus increasing marketing power.
No, Davis was intent on making the orange cat come to the screen just as he does in newsprint. “I can’t separate it ... I don’t write down to kids, or hip to teens. I wouldn’t know what to say. I’d blow it if I did,” Davis said.
The one difference is that movie star Garfield is computer generated and personified by the biting voice of Bill Murray.
Garfield’s castle is the home of Jon Arbuckle, and his empire is the cul-de-sac in which Jon lives.
All is peaceful in his domain as long as Garfield lives on his terms. That changes when Jon takes him to the vet. Jon has it bad for the vet, Liz Wilson (Jennifer Love Hewitt), but is too shy to ask her out.
Liz has a problem, too. A dog named Odie doesn’t have a home. She asks Jon to take him, and he does. Soon, Garfield’s domicile has gone to the dog, and war breaks out in suburbia.
But when Odie gets dognapped, Garfield realizes he, sort of, likes the critter. So, he’s off on an adventure to save him. Meanwhile, Jon and Liz are fast falling for one another.
Davis said he has been approached by many studio executives and producers over the past 15 years to make a movie, but he didn’t want to be involved in traditional animation.
Using computers, the right kind of typically atypical Garfield could be created, and look cartoonish even in a real world setting.
The producer, John Davis (Dr. Dolittle, Daddy Day Care) was just the right producer, and together he and Jim Davis — the pair are unrelated — put together a team with whom the Garfield creator felt comfortable working.
Jim Davis said he worked early and often with writers Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow (Toy Story, Cheaper by the Dozen) as well as director Pete Hewitt (The Borrowers) to create a film version of Garfield that brought the comic version to life.
Garfield has gone Hollywood, and Davis is happy about it. He reckons the producers paid 200 animators to create Garfield, making him the highest paid cat in Hollywood.
Don’t tell Jack.