Tom and Jerry, by Cameron J. Czaja

Throughout history there have been many rivalries that mankind has witnessed and that stood the test of time. We have the United Kingdom and France, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, and Catholicism and Protestantism, just to name a few. In the fictional sense, however, there is one rivalry that has been going strong for several decades and if you’ve watched cartoons at all during your lifetime then you are probably familiar with the famous cartoon rivals Tom and Jerry. 

As a kid in the 1990s who grew up on Cartoon Network, I always enjoyed watching Tom and Jerry whenever I got the chance. Sure, it was mindless humor, but to quote 1 Corinthians 13:11, I was a child and I very much enjoyed childish things. While that Bible verse doesn’t entirely fit me to a t these days, Tom and Jerry was something that I kept in my youth and haven’t really revisited since. When I saw the trailer to the new Tom and Jerry film, those memories of me watching those old cartoons came flooding back and I was somewhat curious of how they would do a live action Tom and Jerry set in modern times. Did this new take on classic cartoon characters re-spark my interest? Let’s find out.

Set in New York City, the film follows Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young woman who is desperate for a job in the Big Apple. When trying to get free food at a prestigious hotel called the Royal Gate Hotel, she discovers that the hotel is hiring due to it hosting high-profile wedding. Seeing an opportunity, Kayla decides tp con her way into getting the job by lying and stealing someone’s resume (ugh…). As far-fetched as that sounds, she gets the job, and her first task is to get rid of a mouse before it gets spotted by any guests of the hotel. That rodent happens to be Jerry himself. Thinking of solutions, Kayla recruits Tom the cat to help get rid of Jerry so that she can keep her new position that she cheated to obtain.

In my review for The Little Things, I mentioned that even though I watched it at home on HBO MAX I would consider watching it again on the big screen just for the theatrical experience. With Tom and Jerry, however, another film that’s being released both in theaters and HBO MAX, I’m glad I didn’t waste my time and trouble trying to watch it on the silver screen. I attempted at first, but I had to work all weekend and couldn’t find the time. But after watching this film I feel like I dodged a bullet.

If you ever watched a Tom and Jerry cartoon before, then you know how incredibly short those cartoons were, around six to eight minutes long. That amount of time works best for characters like Tom and Jerry because of the premise, basically that they are constantly fighting and creating damage in their path. Now, try adding that premise to an hour and forty-minute film. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t make for a good film. The reason I say this is because when the two duos aren’t fighting it turns into a mediocre comedy with lame jokes and characters. There are times where I forgot Tom and Jerry were in the film because it focused too much on the human characters such as Kayla, someone I didn’t care for because of what she did; and one of her superiors (played by Michael Peña) who was acting as cartoonish as the animated characters. You would think for a movie titled Tom and Jerry it would focus on the titular characters a lot more, but then again Hollywood likes to sell celebrity imagery whenever it gets the chance.  Maybe this could’ve worked if it was an anthology film where it was split of into several different shorts, but even then I highly doubt it would have been good. 

I had to salvage anything positive thoughts from Tom and Jerry, it would be the title characters themselves. Even though I mentioned early in the review that I would watch Tom and Jerry cartoons when I was a kid, I didn’t have the nostalgia for the property like I did with other films from my childhood that I reviewed for The Legionnaire (i.e., SpongeBob SquarePants). That said, whenever the film put the spotlight on Tom and Jerry it was something that was briefly entertaining. This was mainly because it kept to the spirit of the classic shorts, which includes the behavior and design of the two cartoon characters. Another positive thing I must note about this movie is the animation. While some may not like the style of it, I was intrigued with the chosen direction. This included the animation. I was intrigued by it, especially by the other animal characters in the film that were also animated. This feature was something that distinguished itself from other animated/live action films, and one day I hope a better film will use this unique technique. 

As you can tell by my review, Tom and Jerry is not worth your time or money at all. Sure, there are things that I praised that are noteworthy, such as the animation, but I would just re-watch those scenes again on YouTube before I would see this film again. In retrospect, I should have known what I was getting into based on who the director, Tim Story, was because of his previous filmography. The film that he made before Tom and Jerry was the 2019 version of Shaft, which was a movie that I did not care for at all. Granted, Tom and Jerry was a much better film than Shaft. However, given my feeling towards that film that’s not saying much.

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