Tom and Jerry: A Swing and a Miss

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Chris Thomas, Staff Writer

In 2009, plans for a live action Tom and Jerry film were in the works. In the wake of “Alvin and the Chipmunks”, producers decided to jump in on the live action cartoon craze. As the movie trudged through developmental stages, Tim Story took over as director. It was at this time that the producers decided to combine live action style with 2-D versions of the Cat and Mouse Duo. More than 10 years in the making, this classic reboot released on Feb. 26, 2021. 

 

Summary/Synopsis

Tim Story began his film with a panning shot over the water in New York City as “Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest, played in the background. Unsurprisingly, Jerry, the iconic brown mouse, is first to appear. He is house hunting in the Big Apple when he stumbles upon his other half. Tom is pretending to be a blind piano-playing cat for street fare. Both seem a little bit down on their luck, but the classic feud ensues nonetheless. A few blocks down the street, Kayla (Chloe Grace Moretz) , is working as a modern day courier: delivering laundry to snappy customers. By some stroke of luck, or lack thereof, the feuding pair crosses paths with Kayla, knocking over her laundry bike. This mishap sets off the plot as Kayla is succinctly fired. While scrounging for free breakfast at the prestigious royal grand hotel, Kayla stumbles upon a pretentious but naive woman waiting for an interview. After hustling the unsuspecting woman out of her resume, Kayla weasels her way into a temporary management job. The hotel is taking on employees for the wedding of  the world famous Ben (Colin Jost) and Preeta (Pallavi Sharda). Meanwhile, Jerry settles upon the hotel as a temporary home. Soon enough, Tom crashes Jerry’s housewarming party and the feud once again overlaps with Kayla. As a temp, she is tasked with solving the mice infestation and coordinating a wedding in a matter of days. Her coworker, Terence (Michael Pena), begrudgingly shows her the ropes as tension rises between Tom and Jerry as well as the bride and groom.

 

What the Critics Think

Rotten Tomatoes critic score – 26%

Metacritic – 33/100

It seems that this movie really failed to strike a cord with critics. Josh Wilding of ComicBookMovie.com wrote that “this live-action/animated hybrid fails to take any risks… score ⅖”. Allen Machar of The MacGuffin complained that, “Tom and Jerry is not offensive… but it’s also not funny and only slightly charming (and even that’s a stretch) original score: D.” Many critics were disappointed with what they viewed as a play it safe/by the book film. As always, there were some who found the film to be a perfectly fine reboot of a family classic. Still, the overall score shows what the movie community thinks of Tim Story’s spin on this classic duo.

 

What the People Think

Rotten Tomatoes audience score – 85%

This could trend downward, seeing how most avid fans would have seen the movie upon release.

 

Google Reviews – ‘81% liked this movie’ + 4.1/5 stars

Sticking with the status quo, one and five star reviews were most common. Naysayers railed against the toilet humor, the run-time, the soundtrack and more. One ‘Googler’ said, “tom and jerry should have classical music like the cartoon. hip hop in tom and jerry? no thanks.” Another complained “what’s [with] all the gangster music making jerry feel like he’s a bad mouse.” Aside from musical issues, some felt that the movie sent a bad message to a young audience. “The moral of this film is terrible. It shows that identity theft is okay and stealing is perfectly fine.” Proponents of the film hailed “the ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ style blend of live action and animation.” More targets of high praise were the cameos from Spike and Toodles Galore, the bulldog and white female cat from the original series. 

 

What I Think

First and foremost, this must be viewed as a children’s movie. I understand that many people grew up with this movie and had a certain preconception in their mind. However, they must realize that Tom and Jerry did not grow up with them. It is still a children’s film. I was shocked by how many reviews I read from adults complaining that the plot was too simple or the humour was too immature. 

 

That being said, I think it was just meh. My favorite genre is rap, so I was not disgusted by the choice of music, but it still was not very appealing to me. The cast had many recognizable faces, but that may have set expectations too high. And while I am on the subject, it seemed that Tom and Jerry had too many cast members to share the spotlight with. The connection between the plotlines of Kayla and Tom and Jerry seemed weak to begin with. I am not sure if this was intentional, but it almost felt as if Tom and Jerry were side characters in a movie about Kayla.

 

I was disappointed with the diminished role that the duo played, but I cannot say that Kayla’s story was terrible. Aside from the toilet humor, which appeared in the form of “I’m scoopin’ da poop” as Terence walked Spike the bulldog or a fart during the wedding ceremony, I found the movie mildly entertaining. I could definitely see a younger person enjoying the puns, faux profanities, and in my opinion, solid animation style. 

 

Final Score: 3/5 Stars / C-

Was this movie painstakingly boring? No. Was it well-written? Yes. Was it the classic Tom and Jerry that was advertised? Not quite, and for that reason I give it a passing grade, but just barely. Like I said, it was not a snoozefest, but I cannot imagine recommending this to anyone of any age, much less rewatching it myself.