Garfield: His 9 Lives
Written By: Gringo

Mass marketer, keen golfer and former cartoonist Jim Davis was responsible for a rash of made-for-television movies a decade or so ago starring his fat orange feline character Garfield.

As many people lament today, the Garfield comic strip today has become a mechanized humor-destroying beast spewing out unfunny three panel comics by committee that Davis has admitted he rarely draws but instead oversees. The television movies were probably the last entertaining thing he went ahead with. There are several that I could talk about, ranging from the crudely animated Garfield On the Town to the relatively decent and fittingly festive A Garfield Christmas Special.

Goodness! I sure mentioned the word Garfield a lot in that last paragraph! Anyway, here's a quick review of one of the more obscure movies -- Garfield: His 9 Lives. The basic concept being that like any other cat, the lasagne-munching obnoxious monster Garfield has nine different lives, or stories, to live.

The movie opens with a rather bizarre appearance by God giving his commands for what this new creature "cat" should look like. After his minions scribble out their design on an easel (God has minions? And lives in a cartoon studio?), we're treated to the familiar figure of Garfield. As most of you will now, Garfield is a striped tabby cat with a severe weight, greed and attitude problem who fills his days berating his loser owner Jon and kicking around Jon's possibly mentally handicapped dog Odie.

After this entrance, it's on the nine lives, all presented as 10 minute vignettes. Here's my quick review of each one. Yes, I donated at least 90 minutes of my life to watching Garfield cartoons. What did you do today?

Life #1 -- Cave Cat

Apparently Cave Cat had massive teeth like those of a sabre-toothed tiger, was fat, and was prone to getting whacked on the head by oversized cavemen. And that's pretty much all you need to know about Garfield's first life.

Life #2 -- King Cat

Garfield once lived, fittingly, like a king among the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Odie appears in the form of a dog slave that Garfield mercilessly whips and generally kicks the shit out of for his own amusement. But danger! Someone is out to kill the Pharaoh, and if the ruler dies then Garfield will be mummified alongside the king's fat ass corpse. Wanting to avoid this, our favorite (uh...) cat keeps saving the dumb king from various assassination attempts. But in the end he can't keep up and the Pharaoh bites the big one. Creepily, Garfield is indeed mummified, but woohoo because here comes the slave Odie to free him. Turns out though that Odie's only reason for freeing the cat was to turn him into a slave and beat ten shades of shit out of him for the rest of his life. And who says dogs aren't smart?

Life #3 -- In The Garden

Brain explosion! This is the most insane of the nine entries in this show. It's a hallucinatory story of a little girl and her tiny orange kitty who go romping through a bizarre wonderland where all kinds of freakish monsters and colorful objects come at your eyes at a billion miles an hour, threatening not to stop until your head cracks wide open from the sheer ridiculousness. The plot has something to do with the girl and cat being tempted to open a box they've been warned not to open and in the end...they don't open the box. I'm glad I wasted five minutes watching that mindfuck.

Life #4 -- Court Musician

A king demands a concerto from his court musician and, drunk with power, threatens to murder the musician if the piece fails to please him (anyone notice a strong death theme here? Fitting, I guess). Garfield -- appearing for no real reason as a blue cat -- comes up with a piece somehow and everyone loves the smooth jazz number. Right. The less said about this section the better.

Life #5 -- Stunt Cat

Ever so briefly, Garfield lived as a stunt cat in black-and-white movies. He died when a ton of bricks were dropped on his head. As a result, the studio responsible went bankrupt after Garfield's relatives filed a gross negligence lawsuit. See, you can get your revenge from beyond the grave.

Life #6 -- Diana's Piano

A sappy tale which tells the tale of a girl's lifelong relationship with her pet cat. I think I liked Garfield best in this incarnation because he is just a sweet natured, quiet little cat who doesn't grumble about Mondays or obsess over lasagne like a sex addict over where he (or she!) will get their next soulless fix. The artwork for this one is fairly nice (everything looks like a painting) and the tale came the closest to stirring emotion in my cold, empty heart. What's that? I'm sappy? Fuck you, too.

Life #7 -- Lab Animal

In which Garfield is a lab animal who breaks out of the laboratory he's kept captive in. A bunch of dogs come hunting for him. Then Garfield turns into a dog. O...kay?

Life #8 -- Garfield

This is the present-day, once-funny Garfield. It tells the story of Garfield's origins, being raised in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant (hence the love for lasagne). The owner decides he can't have the greedy little git eating his profits so Garfield is sent away, something that his mother seems strangely too comfortable with. Dimwit Jon Arbuckle picks up the cat -- along with equally dimwit dog Odie -- and then they lived happily ever after saying they can't function in the mornings with coffee, loved smashing spiders with newspapers and generally hating the day of the week that falls after Sunday but before Tuesday. HILARIOUS!

Life #9 -- Space Cat

Turns out that the fat cat's last life is as the pilot of a strange little spaceship floating through, well, space. Odie appears once again -- wait, so dogs get nine lives too? Doesn't that screw with reality? -- this time in the form of the ship's computer O.D.I.E. Yeah. The vignette involves a lot of dull futuristic jokes (the wacky things machines do never cease to amuse) until Garfield gets blown sky high by some evil alien. Success!

Hooray! Garfield is dead! Wait...don't go rejoicing just yet. Seems God feels sorry for the fat cat and Odie, and the denouement sees the man upstairs granting both of them another nine lives. Sequel ahoy!

Oh, and if anyone is yet to discover the delights of Garfield Minus Garfield then I highly recommend the site. The genius idea -- remove Garfield from the comic strips -- results in a hilarious tale of a sad lonely man named Jon. I'm not going to spoil the effect any further, so go visit that site right now. Please?

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