Directed by Phil Roman and George Singer
Produced by Film Roman, United Media, Paws, Inc.
December 21, 1987
- Garfield-Lorenzo Music
- Odie-Gregg Berger
- Jon Arbuckle-Thom Huge
- Grandma-Pat Carroll
- Dad-Pat Harrington
- Mom-Julie Payne
- Doc “Doc Boy” Arbuckle-David L. Lander
It is Christmas Eve and Jon, Odie, and Garfield are headed out to the country to spend Christmas with the family.
This special is from a simpler time when networks around the holidays would fill the airwaves with tons of Christmas specials between eight and nine in the evening. Most were forgettable but some, like this one, could withstand the test of time and stick in your mind. There is something special here that makes it highly rewatchable.
The plot is thin at best, but you cannot do too much in 25 or so minutes with commercials removed. The basic plot of story is just everybody coming together at Christmas time. There is no threat to really overcome or no issue that needs to be solved. It is just a series of comedic moments on Christmas Eve, but it does also create a feeling of Christmas. It does invoke the holiday spirit and that is what you are looking for. Supposedly much of this was drawn from Jim Davis’s own Christmas experiences when he was writing it and he channeled that into a sweet special with some heart.
In A Garfield Christmas Special get introduced to Jon’s quirky family. They address the oddities of the Christmas season that families might have. From the reading of Binky Saves Christmas to the general celebration, it is mostly about the internal quirks that each family has that are perfectly normal but to an outsider seem odd.
I believe this is the first time we meet Grandma on screen who is a spunky and energetic older woman who seems to tolerate Jon’s mother more than actually like her. There is his father who is stuck in the middle of it all who cannot believe his grown kids Jon and Doc require that he reads a Christmas story and act like small children.
Something that has stuck with me over the years about the special is Jon’s grandmother. Not the characterization of her around her family but the scene when she is sitting alone with Garfield and talking about her late husband. It is a sad and truly touching moment. It is a brief dramatic scene where she is wistfully reminiscing about her love in a lighthearted special, but it does not feel out of place in the overall film. This is about Christmas and at this point the season is bringing up memories of her husband.
This is a credit to Davis and his script. He inserted a moment into a comedic story that could have otherwise seemed abrupt in the narrative but fit nicely. But there are other sweet moments in this. Another is the gift exchange on Christmas Day with Odie presenting Garfield with a backscratcher he made and Garfield giving Grandma a packet of all the letters from her husband.
A Garfield Christmas Special is an entertaining Christmas special from the days of yore and is free to view (with commercials) on YouTube currently. The animation is solid and while there are not many jokes the script overall is light. Watch it!