Best of enemies. Worst of friends.
Tom & Jerry is a 2021 live-action animated hybrid slapstick comedy film directed by Tim Story, written by Kevin Costello, produced by Warner Animation Group, The Story Company, and Turner Entertainment Co., and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is based on the comedy shorts from the 1940s-present, Tom and Jerry. It stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña. It was not nominated for any Academy Awards. This is the first theatrically released Tom and Jerry film since 1992's Tom and Jerry: The Movie. A spin-off TV series, Tom and Jerry in New York, is currently streaming on HBO Max.
"We have a mouse problem." -Mr. DuBros
After years of fighting as the world's most iconic enemies, Tom and Jerry take their beef to a new place: The Royal Gate, New York's most esteemed hotel. As the hotel prepares for a wedding of epic proportions, trickster and impostor Kayla Forester must stop Tom and Jerry from ruining the ceremony and destroying the hotel's reputation.
The first thing that comes to mind with this film is the animation. Nowadays, all major studios use 3-D CGI animation. This film is animated with CGI, but the characters look 2-D. The movie looks almost like a modern version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It looks really interesting and I appreciate that Warner Bros. tried something different with this film. The blending of the live-action with the 2-D characters can look cool at times. One standout scene is when Tom and Jerry have a massive fight in a hotel room. That was the best blend of live-action and animation that this movie accomplishes.
I thought that the sound design and some of the set design worked really well. This would be a really interesting movie to have a documentary on how it was made, because all of the stuff being destroyed looks practical, but it's being destroyed by animated characters that clearly would not be present on the set. The sounds that are created with all of these over-the-top animated weapons and noises made by Tom and Jerry are really cool. This style of slapstick isn't really present in films nowadays, so this was just a nice change of pace.
I'd say that Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña both did a fairly good job. Not their best performances, but they were still good. I'll get into some of the problems that I have with them in the negatives, but they did a good job of staying in character. Moretz was believable as a trickster and charmer, and Peña was the complete opposite. That made for some relatively funny moments.
And, as always, it's usually just fun to watch Tom and Jerry fight. This has always been the draw with these two characters and was the primary selling point for the film, and most of the fights are pretty fun. The two of them are just great fun, albeit not as much fun as when you were five years old.
And, unfortunately, as the headline stated, this film is a complete and utter mess.
The entire film revolves around this couple, Ben and Preeta, that are about to get married, and they are the least interesting characters...ever. They have not backstory and are really, really bland. There are conversations between Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Preeta that are meant to meaningful but come off as odd. They tried to strike a chord with the viewer, but it strikes a different chord that they weren't aiming for.
There is a lot of comedy that falls pretty flat. This is pretty much the most immature type of humor found in a film, which is understandable, because this film is really meant for a younger audience. However, some jokes are just bad. As a matter of fact, the screenplay as a whole is terrible. It seems like they tried to make the human characters act as ridiculous as the animated characters, and that just doesn't work when you are doing a Tom and Jerry movie.
I do think Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña are good, but miscast. I haven't really seen Moretz tackle a comedic role before, and she just doesn't really fit the character. Obviously my exposure to Michael Peña is as Luis in the MCU, which is a completely different type of comedy than the character he is given here. I love him as Luis, and that's why I think that his character in this is not right for him.
And this movie is just all over the place. In the final couple of scenes, there is so much going on that it makes your head spin. This movie can't decide whether it wants to focus on Tom and Jerry fighting, Kayla trying to catch Jerry, or the wedding, so all three are underdeveloped and not given enough time to be fully fleshed out, resulting in a half-baked film with too much happening.
Also, this film's soundtrack is very bizarre. It seems like they wanted to make Tom and Jerry really cool, so they'll be chasing after each other in these ridiculous, over-the-top, slapstick scenes where Tom's eyeballs are popping out of his head and there will be rap music as the backtrack. It's a weird choice, for sure, and I was not a fan.
You can really feel this film following a template. It's like the director said "Here's where they are going to fight. Then we have the wedding. Then a sentimental scene with all the characters. Then we have a lower-key wedding where everyone makes up.". This is a sign of a bad director and a bad script. This film follows really specific plot beats that are painfully generic. Sometimes a generic movie can tackle those cliche scenes well. Tom & Jerry does not do this.
I want to get into the directing a bit more. Tim Story did not do a good job with this project. One specific scene is when Tom and Jerry are being interrogated by Michael Peña. The scene is edited in this alarmingly bad fashion. It's also shot with a revolving camera, so it will pan back and forth behind Michael Peña, revealing Tom in some shots and Jerry in some shots. But then Michael Peña will repeat his line that he just said to Tom and say it to Jerry. This is a director's choice. It's bad one, which this movie is full of.
Tom & Jerry has its moments, with some cool animation and good acting, but a failure to get a good story, characters, and director make this film collapse into a mess.
I will give it a Sour rating. Age range is 5+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Tom & Jerry"
Fun Factor: 7/10
Directed by Tim Story
Rated PG for animated violence and action, rude humor, minor language
Released on February 26, 2021
1 hour and 41 minutes
William Hanna, Mel Blanc, June Foray, and Frank Welker as Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse
Chloë Grace Moretz as Kayla Forester
Michael Peña as Terrance Mendoza
Colin Jost as Ben
Rob Delaney as Henry DuBros
Pallavi Sharda as Preeta Mehta
Jordan Bolger as Cameron
Patsy Ferran as Joy
Ken Jeong as Jackie
Nicky Jam as Butch
Bobby Cannavale as Spike