TOM & JERRY Review; "A By The Numbers Version Of The Duo Likely To Only Get Laughs Out Of Younger Viewers"
Tom & Jerry is now streaming on HBO Max, and while it's exceeded expectations at the box office, this is a movie that will probably appeal only to kids, and not any longtime fans of the iconic double act.
Many of you will remember director Tim Story for his work on Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but those movies are now a distant memory in his career, and he's since helmed everything from Ride Along to Shaft, and is even attached to the upcoming Monopoly adaptation. However, Tom & Jerry definitely marks a return, of sorts, to an iconic franchise, and he handles this animated duo quite a bit better than Marvel's First Family and their supporting cast. Mixing a live-action setting with the two animated leads works surprisingly well, and while Story never takes full advantage of that (there were more revolutionary and exciting approaches to this mash-up in Who Framed Roger Rabbit over three decades ago), there's some fun to be had with this fresh take on the warring cat and mouse...even if it does play it safe from start to finish.
Unfortunately, they spent a relatively short amount of time taking aim at each other, and that immediately robs Tom & Jerry of much of what makes the franchise so much fun to begin with. Making them allies who occasionally fall out feels very 2021, and it's hard not to wonder if a studio exec somewhere in Warner Bros. felt it would surely be far too upsetting and insensitive to have a cat and mouse out to get each other. This safe approach to storytelling is problematic throughout the entire feature, though, and you won't find anything more than a by the numbers story. However, that's unlikely to matter to its target audience, and with a toe tapping soundtrack, silly characters, and heaps of gags, little ones at least are likely to have a great time with Tom & Jerry.
Chloë Grace Moretz makes for a fantastic lead, and is definitely the standout. Even working with subpar material, the actress never fails to impress, and is doing her best to make us believe she's having fun as the new hotel employee looking to keep Tom and Jerry under control ahead of a celebrity wedding. That couple is played by Pallavi Sharda and Colin Jost, though the latter might be better off sticking to Saturday Night Live because his attempt at acting is, unfortunately, not particularly good. He's funny at times (likely when he was allowed to improvise), but simply not a natural when it comes to the acting side of things. Rob Delaney is fine, though it's hard to figure out why an actor as talented as Michael Peña would lower himself to some of the material he's working with here.
Tom & Jerry isn't a terrible movie, and it's certainly not unwatchable. At just over an hour-and-a-half, it makes for easy viewing, but the cat and mouse are too often pushed to the sidelines for an unoriginal storyline which brings nothing new to the table. When they are attempting to get one over on each other, you'll have a good time, but as soon as we see anything other than that, this becomes just another forgettable animated movie which, quite honestly could star any cartoon animals (rather than two of the most recognisable ones on the planet). Placing Tom and Jerry in the real world is actually a great idea, and the animation never looks anything short of excellent. Having every animal be an animated creation is pretty cool, and for a family movie, there are worse choices you could make. There are also much better ones, however, and you might be better off waiting for Raya and the Last Dragon this Friday instead.
An inoffensive take on Tom & Jerry with a solid turn from Chloë Grace Moretz, this live-action/animated hybrid fails to take any risks, and delivers a by the numbers version of the iconic duo likely to only get any laughs out of younger viewers.