Since the 1940s, Tom and Jerry have been “frenemies” before the term was even invented.
Although I was not a huge fan of them growing up (I was more a “Wile E Coyote/Road Runner” fan), they are still the first thing that comes to mind when I hear “cat and mouse”. Although I am not a parent (and have not been in contact with kids such as my nephews for sometime due to the pandemic), I am hesitant to say that kids today are still fans of the original T&J shorts as their parents or grandparents were. This brings us to the live action Tom and Jerry film, which left me (and I assume many others) with more than a few questions: the biggest being, “Who is this film made for?!?!” (An honorable second place goes to “Why was this made?”)
According to IMDB, the short synopsis is that the film explains how Tom and Jerry met in the first place and became rivals. If I had not seen that on IMDB, I would never have found out about it, because the movie does not make it clear at all (I don’t remember if the trailers did either mainly since I can’t remember watching them). Like all the animals in the film, Tom and Jerry are animated (more on that later), and we meet them in introductions that are just not memorable. The story is that, at a big hotel in the city (I assume New York), Jerry has found the perfect place to call home, though Tom is unable to get into the hotel.
At the same time, a young woman named Kayla (Chloe Grace Moretz) has managed to score a gig as assistant hotel manager (how she does this is beyond baffling), under the tutelage of Terrence (Michael Pena). It is right in the middle of a big event, as a celebrity couple is about to have their extravagant wedding at the hotel. When we meet Ben (Colin Jost) and his fiancé Preeta (Pallavi Sharda), we also are introduced to a supporting T&J character, Spike the Dog (there are some of Tom’s other cat friends around as well).
We also get a bunch of supporting human characters, none of whom have any real depth. There is the cute boy Cameron (Jordan Bolger) who works at the hotel bar. There is the over dramatized weird Joy (Patsy Ferran) who pops in and freaks everyone out. We even get a superfluous chef played by the ever lovable Ken Jeong, who adds nothing to the story other than the catalyst of a scene of mayhem.
If the set up of the film sounds lazy and somewhat trite, the jokes (I use the word in the form of definition, not to say they have any effect they may intend) are worse. There is a scene where Ben is opening a wedding present. It is a skateboard with Wifi. Preeta asks, “Why would a skateboard need Wifi?” Ben responds, “Why the Fi not?”
Now for the animation. We have had some live action adaptations in the past couple years (namely, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog) that, while not stellar, was still passable and somewhat realistic (they also had stories that were not mind boggling in their boredom). The animation in Tom and Jerry is really shameful in its execution.
Parents, content wise, your kids will be okay.
Some may be thinking, “Mark, it’s a kids movie. Don’t take it so seriously.” While that is a fair point, I stated already that the adults in the audience are more likely to know the titular characters than their children do. I urge parents to simply go to youtube and search Tom and Jerry shorts for their kids to watch instead of watching this movie.
Tom the cat was known for having one of the more iconic and humorous yells in animation. The pain he felt was something children could only imagine. Then the Tom and Jerry film came out.