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Sarcasm gets 'Garfield' nowhere -- again

Maybe you've been waiting all your life for a kids' movie that makes room for a word like ``doppelganger." Or maybe you're a Bill Murray fan who's become so nostalgic for the actor's goofier side that he's even appealing as a fat, sarcastic, butterscotch-colored feline.

But probably you'll only be attracted to ``Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties" if you're very young, you're very easily entertained, or you just can't get enough of Jim Davis's lasagna-scarfing cartoon cat. And even then, you might want to wait till the movie comes out on DVD so you can skip over the drippy Breckin Meyer/Jennifer Love Hewitt parts.

To be fair, this Tim Hill-directed sequel isn't really any worse than 2004's toothless ``Garfield" (directed by Peter Hewitt), and there's about as much mild amusement in its screenplay, co-written by the returning team of Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow. Once again, the story stars a computer-generated version of the popular comic-strip cat, who talks, sings, dances, and makes fun of most everyone around him in a live-action landscape where he's the only animated character.

Well, almost the only animated character. This time out, Garfield (voiced by Murray) has a snooty look-alike named Prince (voiced by Tim Curry), who's living the pampered life on an English estate.

The two cats meet when Garfield's owner, Jon (Meyer), travels to London to propose to his veterinarian girlfriend, Liz (Hewitt). Garfield and his nonverbal canine housemate, Odie, smuggle themselves across the pond, eventually landing at tourist sites from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace, where Odie's high point is peeing on a guard.

Meanwhile, over at the Castle Carlyle, Prince's owner has just died and left him the property, much to the dismay of greedy Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly), the next in line. Dargis tosses Prince into a river that winds its way to London, and before long the two identical cats find themselves swapping places a la Lindsay Lohan in the ``Parent Trap" remake.

Scooped up by the castle butler, Garfield discovers what it's like to live in the lap of luxury while also missing no opportunity to insult his English hosts, including a bulldog voiced by Bob Hoskins and a goose with the honk of Sharon Osbourne. Prince spends his time torturing Odie and discovering the joys of lasagna, which stopped being a funny food about two minutes after it first appeared in Davis's decades-old strip.

Other than Murray's vocal showboating, the thing that won over fans of the first ``Garfield" movie was seeing their favorite grumpy cartoon pet remade as a cuddly special effect. That fascination has probably worn off in this sequel, and though Murray and Curry gamely deliver some chuckle-worthy one-liners along the way, they're mostly leashed to material as moldy and uninspired as the ``Jeffersons" theme song.

Movin' on up? Not this cat.

Janice Page can be reached at

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