Australian Council on Children and the Media

Garfield

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Short takes

Parental guidance recommended for children under 8 (Violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Garfield
  • a review of Garfield completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 September 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Parental guidance recommended due to violence
Children over the age of 8 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Garfield
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 80 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Garfield is a fat, lazy cat with attitude who freely roams his house and immediate neighbourhood but won’t venture out into the scary world beyond his cul-de-sac. However his world is turned upside down when owner Jon brings home a small dog called Odie in order to please veterinarian Liz on whom he has a crush.

Garfield soon lets Odie know who’s boss around the house, constantly kicking him out of his chair and favourite places. Garfield is concerned that Jon seems to be paying Odie more attention than him and lets Odie into places Garfield isn’t allowed. When Garfield is put outside one night, Odie takes pity on him and comes outside to be with him. Garfield however repays his kindness by getting back into the house shutting Odie out. Odie takes himself off for a walk but soon becomes lost. A kind lady takes him in but when she advertises the ‘found dog’ Odie is collected by ruthless Happy Chapman, a lame TV presenter, who wants the dog to help improve his act. Happy had previously seen Odie dance and had asked Jon to buy him but Jon refused.

Jon is now frantic because he thinks Odie has ‘run away’ and enlists Liz’s help to track him down. Garfield soon realises the trouble he’s caused and also sets out to find Odie.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is quite a lot of slapstick violence in this movie, including the following:

  • Jon slips on a ball while chasing a mouse and lands heavily on the ground
  • Garfield pretends to eat Louis the mouse but spits him out
  • Garfield gets thrown out of a bucket and lands heavily
  • Odie pushes Garfield off the chair sending him flying
  • Garfield lands flat on the back windscreen when the car breaks suddenly
  • Garfield climbs up a woman’s dress causing much havoc and sends a man flying
  • Garfield practically demolishes the lounge room and the bookshelves fall down on top of him
  • Garfield gets sucked through air conditioning ducts and repeatedly bangs into the walls.

Other violence that is not comic involves Garfield putting an electric collar on Happy and sending electric currents through him. Jon also punches Happy in the face.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

A few scenes in this movie could scare children in this age group:

  • Garfield’s neighbour is a vicious Doberman, Luca, who growls and salivates and looks really fierce
  • Happy getting electrical jolts through him
  • the dogs who attack Happy growl and snarl viciously.

Any violence, including slapstick, can disturb children, particularly under the age of five.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed or scared by the scenes mentioned above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

It is unlikely that children over the age of eight would be scared by this movie.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

None of concern.

Coarse language

None of concern.

In a nutshell

The movie’s message is that behaving unkindly will cause unhappiness.

The following content could be used by parents to discuss with their children what their own family’s values are, and what the real life consequences can be of some actions and attitudes:

  • selfishness
  • greed
  • jealousy
  • laziness
  • violence as a way to solve conflict

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