Tom & Jerry relies heavily on viewers’ prior cartoon experiences and their relationship with the duo; as someone who grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series and other superhero cartoons, I wasn’t—and still am not—all that fond of slapstick cartoon violence. Still, I knew enough about the two, and had enough enjoyable experiences, to give the film a try. Thus, I went into my viewing of this film half-expecting Tom & Jerry to be nothing more than a one-hundred-and-one-minute episode of a Tom & Jerry cartoon packed with low-stakes hijinks and exceptional tomfoolery. Unfortunately, the film falls just short of that expectation, delivering a relatively mediocre display of cat-and-mouse shenanigans…
While the film’s plot doesn’t necessarily fall apart like an Acme branded human-slingshot, it certainly is constructed like one and, much like Acme devices, it’s ironically over-engineered. Both Tom & Jerry arrive in New York City—separately, but at the same time—and are looking to make something of themselves: Tom is a musician who sees himself playing with/for John Legend, and Jerry envisions himself living a life of luxury. After Jerry ruins Tom’s blind-cat-playing-piano act in Central Park, the chase is on.
Eventually, the two end up at the luxurious Royal Gate Hotel with Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), a down-on-her-luck millennial, who lied about her employment experience in order to get a job working the event of the year: a wedding for New York’s hottest couple, Preeta (Pallavi Sharda) and Ben (Colin Jost). Terrence (Michael Peña), a micromanaging mid-level manager, determined to show Kayla for the phony that she is, becomes engrossed in the planning and execution of the ridiculous wedding and eventually cracks, leaving his enemy in charge of the whole shebang. There’s also a bit of a love story between Kayla and the barman Cameron (Jordan Bolger) but it’s so insignificant that it’s just barely worth mentioning.
Despite being oversaturated by frail plot elements, the film lacks the sort of cohesion needed to feel complete. Nearly every character introduced throughout the movie wants something; while that’s okay, I didn’t know anything about any of them and didn’t care if they were successful in their short, insignificant journeys. Harsh, I know. But why can’t Tom just want to catch Jerry because Tom’s a cat and Jerry’s a mouse? That reasoning has worked just fine for decades.
If you’re wondering, no, Tom & Jerry won’t convince your children to abandon watching whatever nonsense their watching to sit with you and watch real cartoons. And, if you’re wondering, no, Tom & Jerry won’t leave you, Mr./Mrs. Adults Don’t Watch Cartoons feeling nostalgic. Children and adults alike will, more likely than not, leave the film feeling disappointed. So, if you’re wondering whether you should queue up Tom & Jerry on HBO Max, I say no.
If you’ve been eyeing Batman: The Animated Series that’s also streaming on HBO Max, what are you doing reading this review? And just like that, it all comes back to Batman.
The Bottom Line
Tom & Jerry barely manages to deliver the cat-and-mouse hijinks that viewers expect from the animated duo and ultimately falls short on delivering a watchable film. Perhaps, Thomas and Jerome ought to be kept off of the big screen for a little while longer…