How do dogs feel about The Garfield Movie?

garfield and odie in the garfield movie
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I went to a dog-friendly screening of The Garfield Movie expecting violence. I didn’t get it. Here’s what happened instead.

What the hell is wrong with dogs nowadays?

Back in my day* mankind’s best friend could be relied upon for a bit of mischief. You couldn’t walk down a high street without tripping over a dog. Put one in a screening of The Cat In The Hat (2003) and it’d have torn the projector apart like a lawnmower with a pinata.

Buoyed with nostalgia for a Beano-adjacent era, then, I was looking forward to my local Picturehouse’s dog-friendly-screening of The Garfield Movie. The employee at the front desk described a screening of 101 Dalmatians which, as the titular canines began calling to each other, set the whole auditorium alight with sympathetic howls.

“Ho ho ho”, I chuckled to myself. I couldn’t wait to see how these lovable scamps would react to Buzzfeed’s Second Most Famous Cartoon Cat Of All Time (curiously behind Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove which, while unexpected, is presumably the result of some sort of academic process). I settled down in a half-full auditorium with three or four small-medium sized dogs, and waited.

garfield and odie eating lasgane in the garfield movie
John must have a very large oven to fit three lasagnas in it. (Credit: Sony)

But the first on-screen appearance of a cat in The Garfield Movie came and went without incident. So, too, did the emergence of Odie who, despite communicating exclusively in barks and yaps, provoked nothing more than an uncomfortable shuffle from the Wheaten Terrier in front of me.

As the film wore on, it became increasingly clear that every dog in the auditorium was un-entertainingly well-trained. It would have been a lovely, relaxed, family atmosphere if The Garfield Movie wasn’t a little bit (or a lot of bit) dull.

Still, this was a film about a cat. The dog’s natural nemesis. Fodder for a thousand Saturday morning cartoons. Surely even the most rigorous training couldn’t completely remove a pup’s natural inclination to chase them out of their territory?

Unless, of course, they didn’t see Garfield as a cat in the first place.

Read more: The Garfield Movie Review | A perfectly fine, if uninspired, animated flick

After all, when does the image of a cat become a cat? We might recognise these CG-creations for what they are but objectively speaking, the felines in The Garfield Movie probably look a bit more like bears than the British dog’s natural nemesis (yes, I know dogs were historically trained to defend us from bears, but after a thousand years off I can forgive them for being a little out of practice). Now that I think about it, it probably didn’t help that the auditorium smelt more of popcorn and seat leather than anything associated with a cat.

I should also add that the Garfield in The Garfield Movie spends very little time doing anything particularly cat-like. He eats absurd quantities of dairy (most adult cats are lactose intolerant). He climbs up a tree (and doesn’t get stuck there). He engineers an unrealistically high-concept milk heist (again, don’t give cats milk).

Come to think of it, perhaps this isn’t the dogs’ fault at all. Maybe, just maybe, the blame lies with The Garfield Movie. Because what more stinging indictment could the film have than a room full of dogs watching the whole thing in silence?

The Garfield Movie is in cinemas now.

*For the purposes of this article, assume the author was born in an Enid Blyton novel.

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