Tom and Jerry: The Movie (2021): Can We Just Stick to Shorts? – HBO Max Review

The world’s greatest cat and mouse team come back to the big screen… but why?


Tom the Cat (voiced only by archive footage, mercifully) arrives in New York to try and achieve his dreams of being a pianist. At the same time, Jerry the Mouse is searching for a home in Manhattan. When Tom tries to play keyboard in Central Park, Jerry ends up sabotaging him and destroying his keyboard. As Tom chases Jerry, he runs into Kayla Forrester (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young con-artist who lies her way into a job at a fancy hotel. She is tasked by event manager Terence Mendoza (Michael Peña) with helping to organize the wedding of celebrity couple Ben and Preeta (Colin Jost and Pallavi Sharda). Unfortunately, Jerry has moved into the hotel and has been running amok, so Kayla brings in Tom as a way to get rid of them. Chaos ensues.

The mouse does not lose.


Does anyone else out there even remember the cinematic tragedy that was the last Tom and Jerry movie? The one where they talked? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you are living a slightly more blessed life than me. It is because I have seen that film that I do not consider this to be the worst thing to come out of this 80-year long franchise. Because even if this movie manages to take a ton of talented actors and completely waste them, even if this movie made a number of decisions that border on the comically inept, even if this film seemed frequently incapable of understanding even on a basic level what made Tom and Jerry funny, it still wasn’t the absolute crapfest that was the last Tom and Jerry film. At the very least, it didn’t have a long song number about how Tom and Jerry are now friends and will sing together.

The novelization was vastly superior. I assume. Because shorter.

Almost everything in this film was done wrong. Not just poorly, flat-out wrong. One of the weirdest decisions made in the movie is that every animal is animated. Not just Tom, Jerry, and their usual supporting casts, but pigeons, elephants, and horny background peacocks. Yes, there are horny background peacocks and that’s just a strange thing to put in a kids movie. Moreover, all the things that USED to be animals are also animated, including cuts of meat and dead fish. There’s a scene at a fish market that is literally filled with animated corpses and it does not really add anything to the experience aside from making it seem like people still butcher animals in a world where they’re obviously sentient. They also make Tom’s near-invincibility and cartoon anatomy into an actual feature of his character, which kind of ruins some of the humor. How exactly can you care about someone getting hit if you know they can’t really be hurt? 

Even with a real hammer, no real damage.

The other thing is that the plot of this movie is almost entirely focused away from Tom and Jerry. I’m not saying I needed to have the whole story based around them, they definitely can’t sustain a 90-minute film, but the majority of the film’s actual plot is based around Kayla trying to put together a celebrity wedding and, in fact, trying to keep the couple together despite the fact that they clearly have a lot of issues. Colin Jost is PAINFULLY unfunny as Ben. It’s almost like they cast him just because they needed someone who could believably marry above his station. Michael Peña has to play the bad guy, but not like a fun bad guy. He’s just petty and too serious. They could probably have had all of these people improvise and have produced a much better script. 

So much talent wasted.

Also, the scenes WITH Tom and Jerry aren’t particularly great. Tom and Jerry usually worked because they are fairly dark. Their shorts are based around the two constantly trying to hurt each other violently and usually almost entirely out of just plain spite. It was watching the worst impulses and situations played out harmlessly. That’s why the Three Stooges were funny, it’s why Itchy and Scratchy are funny, and it’s why Tom and Jerry are funny. It works. This film, instead, replaces most of the violence with representations of chaos, like storms of animals or just giant waves of destructive energy. It’s not funny to do it that way. The fun was in the frying pan hitting the face.

Overall, it’s just not a good movie.

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