2 out of 5 stars
Tom and Jerry were the animated creation of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. They would star in over 161 animated shorts from MGM. The pair came into existence in the early 1940s and carried on Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton's tradition. Slapstick humour and pratfalls with little to no dialogue were the mainstays for these fren-emies who chased one another into the hearts of theatregoers worldwide. A comedy duo who have outlived most of their contemporaries from that era, both living and drawn. Yet, Warner Brothers has decided to bring them out of retirement and to give them a computer-generated make-over to see if this retro-style comedy will connect with today’s audiences.
This comedic pair live in modern-day New York City, where the community seems to have become a holdover from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? A world where toons and humans live side by side without any issues or uneasiness. Jerry is simply looking for a home and finds his residence in the famed Royal Gate Hotel. While Tom tries to make his way on the streets as a musician, aspiring to share the stage with John Legend. In the brief moments when their paths cross, the two animals manage to find their way back to the familiar days of chasing one another around the city.
Meanwhile, at the Royal Gate Hotel, Kayla Forester (Chloë Grace Moretz) does her best to find work for herself, despite having no experience in the hospitality industry. Yet, she manages to convince management to take her on board to assist with two urgent projects in the hotel. Firstly, she must help the event manager, Terence Mendoza (Michael Peña), in planning for the wedding of the century. The nuptials between the socialite couple, Preeta (Pallavi Sharda) and Ben (Colin Jost). This massive undertaking would stretch her relational skills while hiding the fact that she has no experience doing the job. The second project that she is given is to quietly exterminate the latest hotel guest on the 10th floor, who happens to be a mouse named Jerry. This project finally brings Tom back into the picture as Kayla’s solution to the rodent issue and providing the world with the familiar chase scenes expected from this pair.
When preparing to see a full-length feature film about two non-speaking characters who merely chase each other around in a dust cloud, all need to manage expectations. For those who are fans of the cat and mouse, this may be the nostalgic journey hoped for on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Tom & Jerry might fill that void for the other viewers such as parents looking for a fun day at cinemas. With the pratfalls and sight gags of old that are revived to appeal to the younger set and a convoluted wedding storyline to keep the parent engaged, things are set for mindless entertainment. Regardless of the purpose of seeing this film, everyone must be reminded to keep their expectations low.
While Who Framed Roger Rabbit? would be considered a masterpiece next to this film, another similar film called Space Jam would be regarded as an Academy Award nominee compared to Tom & Jerry. There is little to keep the adults from secretly looking at the mobile phones while hoping the kids are engaged. While the children will laugh during the animated chase scenes, but will lose interest and start climbing over the seats during the stilted and painful elements with the live-action characters. Every actor has been left with one-dimensional roles that are meant to be ironic in their tone, but merely come off as sorry inclusions in their acting portfolios. This leaves the humour on the veteran animated comedy duo's shoulders, which proves to be too much for them to bear. This shows that they are better as short-film creatures of habit, which should have been left to support those who can carry a full-length film.
What should parents know about Tom & Jerry? There are no surprises with this movie. Tom and Jerry chase one another around, while Tom gets beaten, chewed, electrocuted and maimed. Jerry goes unscathed and seems justified in stealing and abusing his long-time comedy partner. A typical example of 1940s animated humour that is nostalgic for many generations. There are no hidden political agendas, no foul language and primarily animated violence to contend with in this story. In the end, harmless and mindless antics will keep the kids entertained for portions of the theatre time.