5 movies like 'The Garfield Movie' but better

Garfield the cat is about to eat lasagna in The Garfield Movie
(Image credit: DNEG Animation/Sony Pictures)

Although it’s grossed more than $100 million at the worldwide box office thus far, “The Garfield Movie” has definitely not been a hit with critics, with a dismal 36% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The latest take on the lazy orange tabby cat created by cartoonist Jim Davis gets some of the basics right, including Garfield’s love of lasagna and hatred of Mondays.

But “The Garfield Movie” strains to create a large-scale adventure around a character whose defining trait is his dedication to doing nothing. Voiced by Chris Pratt, Garfield reconnects with his long-lost father Vic (Samuel L. Jackson) and is drawn into a convoluted heist scheme. 

It’s all a bit of a mess, so if you’re looking for a better way to entertain both kids and adults, here are five superior alternatives to “The Garfield Movie.”

‘The Emperor’s New Groove’

“The Garfield Movie” is the first film that Mark Dindal has directed in nearly 20 years, which might have enticed fans of his Disney animated cult classic. “The Garfield Movie” features brief flashes of the anarchic sense of humor that infuses “The Emperor’s New Groove,” but it has nothing on the freewheeling absurdity of this hilarious ancient adventure, which remains the funniest animated feature film Disney has ever released.

It’s even more impressive given that it was originally intended to be a serious historical epic with musical numbers by Sting before it was reconfigured into a zippy, Chuck Jones-influenced comedy about a self-centered emperor named Kuzco (David Spade) who finds himself transformed into a llama. Dindal infuses absurdist humor into Kuzco’s journey of enlightenment, with memorable villains voiced by Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton, and a sly self-referential tone.

Watch on Disney Plus

‘Chicken Run’

Garfield’s raid on a heavily fortified dairy facility owes a lot to the escape plan hatched by a group of chickens in the first feature film from beloved stop-motion animation studio Aardman. Set in rural Great Britain, “Chicken Run” pays homage to classic prison escape movies, as headstrong hen Ginger (Julie Sawalha) rallies her fellow egg-laying inmates to fly the coop. They hope to literally fly, thanks to lessons from cocky American rooster Rocky (Mel Gibson), who’s run away from the circus.

There are thrilling set pieces as the chickens battle with the sinister Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson), who plans to turn them all into pot pies via an elaborate, ominous machine. “Chicken Run” showcases Aardman’s typically detailed stop-motion animation, with distinctive characters and rich backgrounds, creating an immersive world on the chicken farm.

Rent/buy at Apple or Amazon

‘The Lego Movie’

This fellow product-focused animated movie starring Chris Pratt is a much more successful integration of art and commerce, building a clever, rousing adventure out of what could easily just have been a feature-length toy commercial. Pratt voices Emmet Brickowski, an everyday citizen in the almost pathologically upbeat Lego-constructed town of Bricksburg. Emmet’s world is rocked by the arrival of freedom fighter Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), who tells him he may be the prophesied savior of the entire Lego world.

“The Lego Movie” is a smart parody of chosen-one narratives, packed with pop-culture cameos from various Lego minifigures and filled with sharp meta-humor. It’s gorgeously animated, bringing Lego bricks to life without losing their tactile senses as pieces of plastic. It may inspire an urge to purchase related merchandise, but only so that viewers can spend more time in its imaginative world.

Watch on Netflix

‘Paddington 2’

Like Garfield, Paddington is an iconic animal character who’s been featured in various adventures across multiple decades and has an obsession with a particular type of food (for Paddington, that’s marmalade sandwiches). But while Garfield is an avatar of American indolence, Paddington embodies cozy British politeness, as the warmly dressed bear lives in harmony with a London family.

Paddington’s decency gets him in trouble in his second live-action movie, as he is falsely accused of stealing from an antique shop and sent to prison. The unfailingly kind Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) befriends and uplifts his fellow prisoners, while his human-adopted family works to clear his name. Hugh Grant is delightful as the megalomaniacal actor who frames Paddington, and this sequel captures even more of Paddington’s low-key humor and gentle decency.

Rent/buy at Apple or Amazon

‘DC League of Super-Pets’

This lighter, kid-friendly animated take on DC superheroes is more entertaining than most of DC’s big-budget live-action movies of the past decade. Although familiar characters like Superman and Batman show up in supporting roles, the main character is Superman’s superpowered dog Krypto, who teams up with a group of misfit shelter animals who’ve suddenly acquired superpowers themselves.

The super-pets have to save the Justice League from a guinea pig supervillain named Lulu, who’s kidnapped the human heroes. It’s all deeply silly, but director and co-writer Jared Stern knows how to balance clever comic-book in-jokes with simple lessons about teamwork and friendship. Dwayne Johnson sounds suitably heroic as the voice of Krypto, and Kate McKinnon is amusingly evil as the voice of Lulu.

Watch on Max

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Josh Bell
Writer

Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and has written about movies and TV for Vulture, Inverse, CBR, Crooked Marquee and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.