What’s the point of making feature-length movies based on popular cartoons when we just know by heart it’s never going to be entertaining? That was a thought I had before the release of Tom & Jerry, which is streaming on HBO Max and in theaters, since it’s hard to remember what worked and what didn’t because it just depends on who has the nostalgia with it and wonder if it’s a good idea. There’re disasters like The Last Airbender, Jem and the Holograms, and both Smurfs movies that you have to be dumb enough to like, and while this wasn’t one of the worst movies I’ve seen, it sure felt like a waste of time.
What’s the Story: Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse get kicked out of their home and relocate to a fancy New York hotel, where a scrappy employee named Kayla will lose her job if she can’t evict Jerry before a high-class wedding at the hotel. Her solution? Hiring Tom to get rid of the pesky mouse.
Let me start by saying I used to watch the classic Hanna Barbera cartoons as a kid when they used to air them on Cartoon Network. It was usually the same plot with every episode, but it’s able to provide some laugher with the cat-and-mouse game that’s cute between the frenemies that ran since 1940 and continued in the spotlight with direct-to-DVD movies. And who else remembers Tom & Jerry Kids? Talks of a live-action movie have been in the works for a long time, especially when most cartoon television shows were getting that treatment in the 2000s. This wasn’t the first time a movie about the duo got made, as an animated movie came out almost 30 years ago, but committed the unholy sin of having the characters talk. THEY SHOULDN’T BE TALKING! But now we have a blend of live-action and animation in what could be something for kids to watch if there’s nothing on. And what we got was pretty bland movie you can only wish was better.
First, let’s start with the good, which is the decision of having its principal characters in 2D animation. We would normally see them as a realistic or CGI cat and mouse, almost making it too weird for the audience to handle. But this was a good idea to keep them, as well as the other animals, are seen in here, in their traditional style against real settings and people was the best idea whenever Tom and Jerry are doing their usual shenanigans that would be too cartoon-ish to live it happen in real-life. This also made me realize if we should root for Tom to catch him since Jerry hurts him more.
But while that’s easily a positive everyone will be on top of, everything else surrounding the two wasn’t giving two cents about. Couldn’t they get a better director that’s not Tim Story? I’m sorry, but whenever his name is attached to anything, that’s when you know it’s going to be a bad time (Fantastic Four, Ride Along, Shaft). And it’s even worse when he has to work from a bad script from Kevin Costello (Brigsby Bear). For a movie called Tom & Jerry, I didn’t expect to see most of the focus on the human characters because none of them weren’t interesting to care about in the slightest. They were barely in this movie, from what I was watching, and that’s probably because they don’t speak besides laughter and screams, but that’s what many people watched this movie for. Why is this becoming a growing problem with these movies?
These are all talented actors who aren’t given suitable material to work with because the story is lifeless that just takes the premise of Dunston Checks In and throws in classic silent duo whenever it needs a moment. Chloë Grace Moretz is our lead human as Kayla, who we should want her to succeed, but why should we since she tricked a woman to leave an interview with the hotel and steal her resume to get this temporary job and get hired on the spot? Something about Mortez’s performance didn’t work for me when the dialogue she says appears awkward in every scene, even when she’s sharing the screen with a cartoon animal. They never allow her to show she’s worth caring for with change to being a better person. We should focus our attention on its title stars trying to kill each other, not wondering how the wedding between Colin Jost’s Ben and Pallavi Sharda’s Preeta will be when everything is becoming too big for what’s supposed to be a beautiful ceremony.
Even the humor felt so stale and didn’t even try to be funny. You come to get some genuine laughs with the Tom and Jerry slapstick antics since that’s all they do, but it just feels you feeling sad when the transition couldn’t make it work. Michael Pena can always be the soft spot for certain comedies, and he’s given scraps as the events manager Terrance. There was a moment from him that was so stupid, I had to hold back a smile because of how dumb the line was. Jerry was watching Young Frankenstein in a hotel room in one scene, which made me want to turn this off and watch that Mel Brooks classic instead. And because it’s a movie targeted at children, Tom does the “Floss” dance and it wasn’t even an hour in. Here’s a tip for all screenwriters out there: Please stop having your characters take part in dance trends that weren’t good, to begin with, because it’ll hit a high on the cringe-factor.
Besides the two hitting each other in that cartoon violent way, nothing else remotely is close to what the cartoon was back in the day. I became so uninvested with everything else; I was questioning how this was about 100 minutes long when it felt like two hours. I assumed it was going to be in trouble within the first minute when pigeons were singing into the camera A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It” during the opening credits. Speaking of which, I have no clue why the music fits so poorly here, including a song you can clearly know it’s from T-Pain from the auto-tune. Honestly, this isn’t a movie was I was expecting to be an Oscar contender; all I wanted was to have a decent time. What we got is a family movie that shouldn’t be watched for children. It’s the kind of movie that makes The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle the equivalent to Leonardo da Vinci painting of live-action/animated hybrids.
Final Thoughts: Tom & Jerry‘s ability to re-capture the spirit of the iconic cartoon is squandered desperately, failing to be funny or having a story worth carrying about. If this was their way of having these characters back in the modern era, then it failed to be an enjoyable romp for families and fans alike. The 2D animation is nice to look at, abut I couldn’t wait for this to be over. We should all be hoping Space Jam: A New Legacy will cheer us up. I’m just glad I had watched this at home rather than going to the theater. Grade: D+