Garfield is a fat and free-spirited orange cat who lives with his owner, Jon Arbuckle. Garfield passes his time by antagonizing Jon and teasing an aggressive neighbor Doberman Pinscher, Luca. Aside from Jon, Garfield maintains an unlikely friendship with a helpful mouse, Louis. He also socializes with his fellow neighborhood cats, including Garfield's stooge Nermal and Arlene.
Meanwhile, a local television host, Happy Chapman, known for his cat "Persnikitty" is introduced as supposedly a happy man. In reality he is allergic to cats, jealous of his brother Walter J. Chapman, a news reporter, and destined to be more successful by performing on TV show Good Day New York. Jon has made a habit of bringing Garfield to the veterinarian, in order to see vet Dr. Liz Wilson (whom he is in love with). Jon tries to ask her out, but due to a misunderstanding, he is given custody of a stray dog, Odie. Regardless, Jon and Liz begin dating. Garfield is jealous of Odie and tries to get rid of him. Odie is brought to a canine talent show, where Liz is a judge. Garfield gets involved in an altercation there with other animals, which moves Odie to the center of the ring, where he begins dancing to "Hey Mama" by the Black Eyed Peas.
His improvised performance is a hit. Happy Chapman, who also is a judge of the dog show is impressed with Odie, and offers Jon a television deal for Odie, but Jon declines. After Garfield accidentally make a mess inside Jon's house, Jon punishes Garfield by forcing him to sleep outside for one night. Odie comes out to comfort Garfield but Garfield locks Odie out. Nermal and Arlene witness this as Odie runs away; he is then picked up by an elderly woman named Mrs. Baker. Jon searches with Liz for Odie while the neighborhood animals treat Garfield as an outcast. Meanwhile, Chapman and his assistant Wendell find a notice Mrs. Baker created of Odie and, recognizing the lucrative possibilities, claim Odie as Happy's own.
When Garfield sees Odie on television and hears Chapman announce he and Odie are going to New York City, Garfield sets out to rescue Odie. Jon discovers Garfield missing so Jon and Liz start searching. Garfield gets into the broadcast tower via the air vents but he is blown around violently. Garfield finds Odie locked in a room; Chapman enters and secures a shock collar to Odie, which, when activated, releases an electric discharge that forces him to perform tricks.
Chapman heads for the train station with Garfield in close pursuit. However, an animal control officer catches Garfield mistaking him as a runaway. Mrs. Baker tells Jon that Chapman took Odie, but Jon believes Garfield was taken too and he and Liz race to Telegraph Tower and then to the train station, after learning Chapman has left. Garfield is released from the pound by Chapman's abandoned feline star, Persnikitty, who is really named Sir Roland. Chapman boards a Texas-bound train, with Odie in the luggage car. Garfield arrives only to see the train depart. Garfield sneaks into the train system control room and frantically switches the tracks, leading to an impending train wreck. Garfield hits an emergency control and causes Chapman/Odie's train to return to the station. Garfield frees Odie and they exit the train. However, Chapman chases them. Chapman threatens Odie with the shock collar, but is stopped by Garfield's friends and animals from the pound, led by Sir Roland. They swarm and attack Chapman, allowing Odie and Garfield to escape.
The shock collar is now on Chapman who gets shocked. Jon and Liz arrive to reclaim the animals and find Chapman disoriented. Jon punches Chapman in the face for stealing his pets, and leaves with Liz and the two animals. Chapman is arrested for his supposed involvement with the trains, as well as for abducting Odie. Garfield regains the respect of his animal friends as a hero. Back at home, Liz and Jon form a relationship, while Garfield learns a lesson about friendship.Live action actors
Garfield creator Jim Davis appeared as an uncredited drunken convention attendee, but his role was cut from the final version of the film.Voice actors
The film was directed by Peter Hewitt, produced by Davis Entertainment for 20th Century Fox, and stars Breckin Meyer as Jon Arbuckle, Jennifer Love Hewitt as Dr. Liz Wilson, and features Bill Murray as the voice of Garfield.
Filming was at several locations including Los Angeles Union Station with Amtrak locomotives and rolling stock being featured in numerous scenes. Chuck E Cheese's is mentioned in the film when Garfield leaves to go to the vet while Wendy's was mentioned and shown numerous times throughout the film.
Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller, and Adam Sandler were considered for the role of Jon but all three of them were considered too expensive. Jennifer Garner was considered for the role of Liz, and Brad Dourif and Michael Ironside were considered to play Happy Chapman. Ironside was cast, but he dropped out after one day of filming for unknown reasons.
Garfield: The Movie was released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on VHS and DVD on October 19, 2004. The special features includes a behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, and the Baha Men music video "Holla!". The film was released on a 3-disc Blu-ray on October 11, 2011.
In theaters, it included an Ice Age short film, Gone Nutty.
Baha Men performed the song "Holla!" for the film and its soundtrack. The music video premiered in early summer 2004 and featured clips from the film and gags showing obvious references to the Garfield franchise (such as lasagna jokes).
Garfield: The Movie received generally negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 15% based on 136 reviews with an average rating of 3.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "When the novelty of the CGI Garfield wears off, what's left is a simplistic kiddie movie." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 27 out of 100 based on 31 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave the film a "thumbs up", saying the movie was "charming".
Murray said in an interview with GQ that he was confused when he agreed to play the voice of Garfield for the film.
I thought it would be kind of fun, because doing a voice is challenging, and I'd never done that. Plus, I looked at the script, and it said, "So-and-so and Joel Coen." And I thought: Christ, well, I love those Coens! They're funny. So I sorta read a few pages of it and thought, Yeah, I'd like to do that...So they went off and shot the movie, and I forgot all about it. Finally, I went out to L.A. to record my lines. And usually when you're looping a movie, if it takes two days, that's a lot. I don't know if I should even tell this story, because it's kind of mean. [beat] What the hell? It's interesting. So I worked all day and kept going, "That's the line? Well, I can't say that." And you sit there and go, What can I say that will make this funny? And make it make sense? And I worked. I was exhausted, soaked with sweat, and the lines got worse and worse. And I said, "Okay, you better show me the whole rest of the movie, so we can see what we're dealing with." So I sat down and watched the whole thing, and I kept saying, "Who the hell cut this thing? Who did this? What the *bleep* was Coen thinking?" And then they explained it to me: It wasn't written by that Joel Coen.
In Zombieland, when Bill Murray (playing himself) is shot he is asked if he had any regrets before dying. He responds by saying "Garfield, maybe."
Despite the negative reviews, Garfield: The Movie was considered a financial success.
A sequel, titled Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, was released on June 16, 2006 in North America.