Movies like Warner Bros “Tom & Jerry”, is about nostalgia. It runs on it and relies on it, especially since the grayed mishap prone feline and his resourceful but adorable rodent prey have entertained us for 81 years. Not only does it give us older generation that nostalgic feeling, it will surely bring “Tom & Jerry” into the homes of a whole new generation that will enjoy their slapstick hi jinx. The series of 161 theatrical comedy short films by Metro Goldwyn Mayer, was created in 1940 by legendary artists William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.
The “Tom & Jerry” formula is simple. Tom chases Jerry, Jerry outsmarts Tom, that results in some sort of painful and creatively visualized physical outcome. Their long lasting approach to slapstick violence is the key to the act’s longevity. Warner Bros newest isn’t their first big screen adventure, the first came in 1992 aptly titled “Tom & Jerry: The Movie”. It’s hard to defend the 1992 film as the famous characters avoided violence, became friends, spoke and sang for the first time ever in the voices of Richard Kind and Dana Hill.
The 1992 movie didn’t dissuade the duo’s corporate executives at Warner Bros. from churning out more than a handful direct to video vehicles for the duo. Now the duo are back in a full length feature simply titled “Tom & Jerry”. Released by Warner Bros and premiering on HBO Max the same day as theaters. Director Tim Story puts Tom & Jerry into the real world and takes from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in that toons and humans can live in the same universe. Millions grew up watching “Tom & Jerry” cartoons and I certainly was one of them.
The comic mayhem of the cat and mouse duo drew inspiration from the works of the greatest silent comedians and thankfully they stay silent unlike that 1992 movie. Their humorous situations in which they find themselves upping the ante in their never-ending war against one another also marks a return thanks to director Tim Story. The director of “Taxi”, both Jessica Alba “Fantastic Four” films and “Barbershop” knows what made “Tom & Jerry” work back in the day and uses all of those tactics for his film. I found his new “Tom and Jerry” movie to be cheerful, cute, funny, have lots of heart and is lots of fun. It reminded me of what I loved about the characters growing up.
All of the animals including Tom & Jerry, all retain a hand-drawn look that’s rooted in the vintage MGM shorts but with that modern CGI animation. It’s a style that lands “Tom And Jerry” somewhere between “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse”. Tim Story uses flawless camera work when the humans and toons react with one another that creates real world consequences when Tom & Jerry’s hi jinxs ensues. Such as in a sequence where Tom and Jerry trash a hotel suite, the camera glides across the chaos as their cartoon claws shred physical pillowcases drapery and causes structural damage.
It’s not clear if this is a reboot as the movie opens with what could possibly be taken for how the two met. They are both headed for New York City. Tom is trying to make it to the big time with his piano playing skills, where he hopes to open for John Legend (it’s more amusing than it sounds). While Jerry is headed to the big city to find himself a better home. The two cross paths, which leads to a chase and they end up finding themselves at a posh hotel, where they both decide to stay. Chloe Grace Moretz (Hitgirl of “KickAss”) plays Kayla, a young scammer who cons the hotel manager (Rob Delaney), into giving her a job. As it turns out, the wedding of high-profile couple Preeta (Pallavi Sharda) and Ben (Colin Jost) is coming up and events manager Terence (Michael Pena “End Of Watch”) could use some help preparing.
Tom and Jerry make their presences known and threaten to ruin the wedding with their hi jinks. So Kayla is put in charge to prevent from the wedding being destroyed, but views Jerry as the problem and hires Tom to get rid of him from the hotel. I really don’t need to go any further as you can guess what happens from here and the eventual outcome. The stakes of the wedding and what it spells for the happy couple’s future and the careers of the Royal Gate staff give shape to “Tom And Jerry”. Just don’t expect the kiddos who are watching to care or understand the films messages of what makes a marriage work.
Star Chloe Grace Moretz is adorable and likeable as Kayla and her charm is on full display giving exasperated expressions and skillfully interacting with a cat and mouse who aren’t really there. “Tom & Jerry” is lot of fun and is the best recent example of the “take an old cartoon and make it live action” structure that Hollywood has been trying to churn out for the last several decades.
Clearly director Tim Story and his team did their homework, they watched the old shorts, learned the moves and brought these legendary characters into the new century. It’s hard to dislike the movie when it’s being this much fun and in knowing what it wants to be. After 81 years, here’s hoping that “Tom & Jerry” will breathe new life into these classic characters and get today’s kids to go back and revisit the classic shorts that got them here. Warner Bros does the history of the Hanna and Barbera characters justice in giving us a “Tom & Jerry” film that is consistently funny and so much fun.
GRADE: ★★★1/2☆☆ (3.5 out of 5)