Tom And Jerry (2021)

Remember when The Muppets film came out a while ago? How it was full of celebrity cameos and created a real sense of both wonder and nostalgia? This is like the opposite of that. It has some celebrities who clearly love the franchise, and are clearly having a lot of fun. But the script and the film are just not good enough. Tom And Jerry have never had much luck when it comes to escaping their original shorts. The 1992 movie was heavily derided for having a weak plot, and having the main characters talk (which is a mistake this film does not make), and the less said about their version of Willy Wonka (why?) the better.

Maybe it’s because the madcap pace of the characters is difficult to maintain and keep interesting over the course of a feature length film. Or, maybe even simpler (but sadder), is that the studios know that they don’t have to put any effort into these films, because they know they’ll make money anyway, so they can be lazy and cheap with it.

On the plus side, the animation is pretty good. They’ve kept the fluid 2D nature of the originals, and overlaid them on a live action setting, which is really the best way to do it. If it was completely animated it wouldn’t have felt different enough, and if they tried for a realistic look for the characters, it….well it would have been a fucking nightmare to put it politely. The 2D violence still has an effect on the world though, scratches appear on sofas when they fight etc, in a way that can’t have been fun to line up the timings of the animation for. There are moments where the mix isn’t quite as seamless as it needs to be, but overall that aspect of it works. Another good part of the animation: ALL animals are animated, even ones in the background. A neat touch that wasn’t necessary, but very much appreciated.

Now onto the negative, the script. It’s……well it’s incredibly lazy. I can’t imagine the writer spending weeks fretting over scenes in this, so much of it seems so careless and unnecessary, you could cut most of the opening and it wouldn’t effect the film at all. I’ll describe the opening moments:

  1. Tom is playing music in a park for money.
  2. Jerry comes along and starts dancing, putting a sign over Tom’s sign so that he gets the money instead.
  3. They fight, breaking Tom’s keyboard meaning he can’t play anymore. (this does lead a moment where someone is outraged that Tom isn’t blind: “he’s not a blind cat playing the keyboard, he’s a regular cat, this is an outrage” which genuinely made me laugh)
  4. At some point, Tom bumps into Chloë Grace Moretz’s character, knocking stuff out of her hand and causing her to lose her job.
  5. Moretz’s character gets a job at a hotel where Jerry sneaks in and causes rumours of an infestation.
  6. Tom gets hired to deal with Jerry.

EVERYTHING before point five is not needed. We don’t need to really know that Tom is a musician, and if we do, then it could be shown during the rest of the film, not just at the start. We don’t need to see Moretz get fired, we just need to see her get a job. We don’t need to see Tom And Jerry fight, they don’t need THAT motivation for anger towards each other. The fact that Tom is hired to get rid of Jerry should be enough motivation to carry the rest of their antics. The fact that the makers of this film couldn’t see that, is emblematic of the problems this film has. It’s an easy fix, but one that they couldn’t be bothered to do for whatever reason. It also doesn’t help that sometimes Tom And Jerry feel like side characters in their own movie. I know, it’s difficult to build a feature length narrative about two characters that don’t speak, and you can’t exactly make these character speak. But if you can’t make a good movie, don’t make a movie. This feels like it was made for the sake of being made. Everything about it just screams “contractual/celebratory obligation”. There’s no desire, no passion, there’s no sense that this is what anybody who worked on it has had their entire career building to this moment. Which considering how beloved these characters are, is a real shame. The franchise inspires a lot of love in people, it’s just a shame not a damn ounce of it was in the script.

On the plus side: there’s a surprising performer I didn’t know I’d love as much as I did. Yes, Rob Delaney is as great as he usually is, but the real star of the show for me is Patsy Ferran as an awkward bellhop. Her character steals every single scene she’s in and I wish it focused more on her instead of, well, every other human character.

It’s really hard to recommend this movie, the fact that there’s a slight chance that this review is the first time you were aware of the film is quite indicative of the quality of it.

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