Movie Review: Tom and Jerry (2021)

Tim Story’s Tom and Jerry is a live-action movie with the eponymous characters themselves digitized. It sought to follow the path of movies such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Scooby Doo: The Movie. Tom and Jerry are classic characters far more important than the aforementioned duo, but Hollywood has its way of abusing such status. And here, it has done that effectively.

Leading lady, Chloë Grace Moretz. Via Warner Bros.

The story follows the overfamiliar trope of a good-hearted liar trying not to get caught. Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) steals someone else’s résumé to work in a hotel and spends the rest of the movie avoiding discovery. The consequences for this serious action aren’t as detrimental as it should have been. While the movie drags us on through the rigmarole rivalry between Tom and Jerry, it becomes obvious that this movie titled after them isn’t really about them. If Tom and Jerry are to be struck out of the movie, this movie will still stand as a coherent cinematic expression. 

The animation is reminiscent of the original Tom and Jerry animations. Some of the gags are direct gags from the original cartoon series, and some are new, freshly repackaged into this environment. However, the end result is nowhere as scintillating as the originals. The iconic cat and mouse duo were sidelined in a story they could have thrived, in a story they should have thrived. There are numerous episodes from the animated series that features Tom and Jerry in a hotel duel. An example of such is “Cat Got Your Luggage?” which aired on September 30, 2006. There are cues and markers that if the humans were pushed to the peripheral and the cat, mouse, and dog were given the stage, we would have spent the whole duration of the film laughing and reminiscing on old times. Here, a trite, cliché narrative with stereotyped characters puffed up to life-size have been made to replace our beloved duo.

“Cat Got Your Luggage?” episode.

Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña (Terrence) effortlessly hold their own when you consider that she is speaking to thin air. The performances of the other actors are merely decent to watch when the aforementioned fact is considered. Tom and Jerry star as themselves (Tom’s singing voice is T.Pain’s) and Spike is voiced by Bobby Cannavale.

Tom and Jerry in action. Via Warner Bros.

In the end, all is well, and the essence of the characters are respected when they immediately go at each other’s throat right after reconciling, but it is all a little too late. The damage done in the first and second acts are already irredeemable.

Rating: 5/10

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Side Musings:

  • The most illustrious scene that genuinely captures the essence of the duo would be the lobby scene, where Spike attacks Tom who in turn pulls in Jerry until there is such chaos and a whirlwind that Terrence (Michael Peña) later claims to be an “animal tornado”. But such moments are far flung in the movie that they become ineffective. While they’re good in their own right, they make no lasting resonance on the movie. 
  • While this didn’t work out well, we all know Hollywood will return with a sequel or a reboot; or both of them wrapped into one movie. Tim Story has a hang on the material in their depiction and mannerisms, it just needs to be replicated throughout the movie. And, hopefully, in a less chaotic human environment, with as little human drama, and with the cat and mouse left to the extremity of their own devices. 

Tom and Jerry is available on HBO Max and in select theatres.

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