Is TOM & JERRY: THE MOVIE great? No. Is it good? Just barely --- and only when it’s about Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse. The rest of the story about an extravagant wedding at a posh hotel in Manhattan could have used many improvements, which is a shame. Had screenwriter Kevin Costello stayed closer to reality based on the original “Tom & Jerry” cartoons by William Hannah and Joseph Barbera, this movie could have been so much better.
Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse (voiced by William Hannah and Mel Blanc using archival audio recordings) have relocated to New York City. Tom plays the piano in Central Park, pretending to be blind, and Jerry exposes him. Following the inevitable confrontation, Jerry ends up at the Royal Gate Hotel, where Kayla Forester (Chloë Grace Moretz) has just landed a job as a wedding planner for a high-profile couple, Preeta Mehta (Pallavi Sharda) and Ben (Colin Jost).
As Ben adds more and more outrageous details to the nuptials, like elephants and an intrusive drone, to impress Preeta’s father, Mr. Mehta (Ajay Chhabra), things go awry, as one would
expect. The presence of both Tom and Jerry only compounds the problems.
The slapstick comedy of Tom and Jerry can be a lot of fun --- for both children and adults. Unfortunately, Costello’s story here doesn’t allow for enough of just the two animated stars. His script gets bogged down in the silliness of this obnoxious wedding. The best moments in TOM & JERRY: THE MOVIE come at the expense --- as always --- of Tom, who is forever being outsmarted by the very clever Jerry.
Moretz gives it her best as the besieged Kayla. She’s totally adorable --- and thus, Kayla is adorable, even though she stole someone else’s resume and identity. Not a great lesson for the kiddies, but she does pay a price, kind of, eventually.
Michael Peña co-stars as Terrance Mendoza, Kayla’s boss at the hotel, and someone who is not happy to have her on board.
I found his performance boorish and uncommonly over-the-top for
Peña. Usually, he is so solid in his work, but as the smarmy Mendoza, he’s particularly unappealing.
Look --- TOM & JERRY: THE MOVIE is not one of those family films that will delight both the children and adults alike. However, the kids, especially the younger ones, will find it to be entertaining enough. There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, such as Tom and Jerry tearing up a hotel room, that they will appreciate. So, sit them down in front of the television and go have a glass of wine. Trust me, everyone will be happy.
Opinion: Mild Wait For VOD
The new TOM & JERRY: THE MOVIE film makes decent use of animation and live action although it will not do well with the inevitable comparison to WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?
Whereas that film had a lot of redeeming qualities for adult audiences, TOM & JERRY: THE MOVIE is strictly for kids --- unless you find scene after scene of mass destruction in a hotel entertaining.
It’s really a pretty ordinary movie from both a story perspective and the acting in general. The script is disappointing given that co-scribe Kevin Costello also co-wrote BRIGSBY BEAR a few years ago, a most novel movie. And I couldn’t shake the question in my mind of why a fine actor like Michael Peña would bother with this role.
As for Chloë Grace Moretz, who is in practically every scene, and while she is cute and has had shining moments in her career, I doubt she’ll look back fondly at her turn in TOM & JERRY: THE MOVIE. While the film tries its hand at poignancy --- Colin Jost and Pallavi Sharda are a couple about to be married if only he hadn’t insisted they have elephants (animated, of course) at their nuptials --- when they reconcile at the film’s finale. Jost tries mightily to inject laughs into the lackluster screenplay and it will be interesting to see the reaction of his cohorts on SNL. Are you listening Michael Che?
I would have liked more of the under-utilized Ken Jeong --- he lights up every movie he’s in with his particular brand of humor. But my biggest question is this --- where was Tuffy? This is the little gray mouse character --- clad only in a diaper --- that was Jerry’s pal back in the day, if I remember correctly from my youth.
TOM & JERRY: THE MOVIE may appeal to 8-year-olds, and if the film keeps them occupied for an hour and a half during Covid --- that’s not a bad thing.
Opinion: Mild Wait for VOD