APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 23: Garfield (2004)

Bill Murray doesn’t have an agent and has a phone that people call him on to try to hire him. He claims that he thought one of the screenwriters of this movie, Joel Cohen, was Joel Coen of the Coen Brothers.

Why would the Coen Brothers make a Garfield movie?

Murray has been telling this story as far back as a GQ interview in 2010, “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. 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.”

Co-writer Alec Sokolow doesn’t believe Murarry: “He knew it was not Joel Coen well before he met Joel Cohen. It’s a funny take. And it kind of defends him against the criticism of making such an overtly commercial film. But it’s complete horse shit.”

But hey. Murray got to record his dialogue in his apartment and on the set of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

I have no idea how you make a narrative movie out of Garfield, but these guys did it, and they made John into Breckin Meyer and gave him Jennifer Love Hewitt as a love interest. And if there can be fanservice for Garfield — umm, yes there can be, I may own several Garfield shirts and still am enraged that Kennywood took out the Garfield mill ride, a fact that I’ll go on and on about any time you’d like to know more — there is in this movie, as all of the characters — yes, there are more than just Garfield — show up, with Jimmy Kimmel as Spanky, Debra Messing as Arlene, Alan Cumming as Persnikitty, Nick Cannon as Louis the mouse, David Eigenberg as Nermal and Brad Garrett as Luca.

Odie doesn’t talk.

Murray still did the sequel, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, with less confusion.

Now for the cosmic coincidence. When they made The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman was voiced by Lorenzo Music, who is the actor best known for the voice of Garfield.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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