Animated Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Tom & Jerry (2021)

A review on Hollywood live action animated film, Tom & Jerry (2021). The film is based on the popular MGM studios cartoon characters ‘Tom & Jerry’, created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The live action animated film is directed by Tim Story and stars Chloë Grace Moretz in the lead role. The film is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and is released on HBO Max streaming service.

+ Crew I

  • Directed by Tim Story
  • Cinematography by Alan Stewart
  • Screenplay by Kevin Costello
  • Edited by Peter S. Elliot
  • Music by Christopher Lennertz
  • Produced by Chris DeFaria

+ Crew II (Production Houses)

  • Warner Animation Group
  • The Story Company
  • Turner Entertainment Co.

+ Note

Tom & Jerry are an extremely popular cartoon duo where the premise most likely revolves around the cat (Tom) chasing the mouse (Jerry) with lots of slapstick comedy in between. The characters were first conceived and presented as an MGM animated short “Puss gets the Boot” in 1940. Since then, they rapidly became pop cultural icons and are beloved by children and adults alike. In 1993, the cat and mouse duo made their silver screen debut with their feature length animated film Tom & Jerry: The Movie. The film was an unfortunate financial and critical failure, earning only $57.2 million at the box office from their $79 million budget. 

A live action version of Tom & Jerry was announced back in 2009 and the film was supposed to incorporate animated Tom & Jerry cells within a live action setting of New York City. The film was shot around 2019 and was released in February 2021 on HBO Max streaming service.

+ Main Cast

  1. Chloë Grace Moretz as Kayla 
  2. Michael Peña as Terence
  3. Colin Jost as Ben
  4. Rob Delaney as Mr Dubros
  5. Ken Jeong as Chef Jackie

+ Plot

Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) lands a job in a fancy Hotel in the Big Apple and is made in charge of leading a massive Indian wedding of a celebrity couple. But there seems to be a problem; a mouse problem by the name of Jerry. In order for the wedding plans to go smooth, Kayla hires a cat by the name of Tom in order to take care of the ‘mouse in the house’ situation. Will Kayla be able to lead the wedding and in the process, bring peace and friendship between the two arch rivals Tom and Jerry?

+ High Points

i – If you grew up watching Tom & Jerry and have diligently watched most of their animated shorts, you will find a lot of things to appreciate about it. The film at times pays homage to classic Tom & Jerry moments, makes cameo appearances from the Bulldog Spike, the alleyway cats like Butch, Sound Effects directly taken from the classic shorts, such instances clearly show that the creative team loves and respects the source material.

ii – The animation cells of Tom & Jerry and their animated anitics are brilliantly realised. Although the animation is a 2D/3D hybrid, it still gives the feeling that you are watching the animated shorts from the 40s but with live action footage within it.

iii – Unlike the animated film from 1993, Tom & Jerry do not talk. And thank God for that! The classic Tom & Jerry was all visual gags and slapstick comedy and that’s all it needs to be. 

iv – In this universe, all the animals solely exist as animated characters. That I feel, is a great way to explain how Tom and Jerry are among live action characters without going too much into needless exposition. Good on the movie for that.

+ Low Points

i – With Tom & Jerry, there has always been the vital question; how do you convert 5 min short animation skits into a feature length film? The first film tried and failed, would this live action film fare any better? The answer is an unfortunate No. In feature length narrative, Tom & Jerry does not work. They always end up becoming mere side characters in their own feature length film and the audience has to patiently wait for the uninteresting live action actors to pass by before we momentarily get back to the Cat and Mouse duo. If there is a way to make a successful Tom and Jerry feature length story I am not sure but for now, Tom & Jerry fails yet again to make a successful transition onto the silver screen.

ii – Speaking of boring live action characters, none of the non-animated characters make any lasting impression in the film. The dialogue delivery from every actor makes one feel that they are just part of this film to collect their pay check and move on with their careers. The minimal character arc that Kayla has seems incredibly forced and unearned by the end. Honestly, there is probably more depth to Tom & Jerry’s character than there is to the whole live action cast of the film.

iii – The catalyst to the premise makes no sense. For some odd reason, Tom is a musical street performer, pretending to be blind (..why?) so he can earn cash but then Jerry seizes that crowd to earn his own cash by dancing to Tom’s tune and in the process, garnering sympathy towards him. Um…what? How does anything have to do with the hotel later on? It is needlessly complicated. Why not just make the premise of Tom being the Hotel cat, who has Jerry as his new adversary? It’s simple and to the point. The charm of Tom & Jerry has always been in its simplistic premise.

iv – Although the animation itself looks good, it has not been integrated well into the live action footage. The actors have no clue where to look, or how to hold an animated animal in their arms which makes the production look cheap and unconvincing. There is a lack of details on animated characters whenever they are walking from light to shadow, they seem a bit ‘floaty’ at times whenever they are standing on a solid surface. The best example of integrating animation with live action is Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) a film which is more than 30 years old! 

v – The premise of the film itself is uninteresting. Who cares about the hotel and how many great fancy rooms it has? Why should the audience care about this celebrity Indian wedding if the characters themselves are more 2 dimensional than their animated co-stars? The whole “ beloved animated characters in live action New York City” plot is old and tired and Tom & Jerry feels like a movie 12 years too late.

vi – The rap music, pop cultural references, Tom doing the floss dance (seriously, stop that please); it all makes the film so desperate for kids to like this film. Sure, it might be entertaining for children up till the age of 6 but I can’t imagine anyone enjoying this film beyond that age group.

vii – Too many unfunny scenes. One too many poop/ fart jokes. Because the film is desperate to make you laugh and fits nowhere into Tom & Jerry’s sense of humor from the cartoons.

viii – A cartoon which is famous for its inventive ways to present the same old premise of Cat and Mouse is now a tired old film, trying to rip off from the success of other lackluster kids films like The Smurfs. As a fan of Tom & Jerry, it makes me sad and depressed to even watch this film for the review.

+ Overall

Tom & Jerry (2021) is nothing more than a lifeless cash grab. It’s yet another lackluster take on the beloved duo who have made generations of kids and adults laugh. Please do not pay to watch this film. Watch it only when it’s free on cable and you would like something in the background to keep the kids occupied. Or better yet, someone will be kind enough to compile all the animated Tom & Jerry sequences from the film on Youtube. Watch that instead.

Rate: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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