With a long-standing feud that has lasted for nearly 80 years, the infamous Thomas Cat and Jerry Mouse return for another showdown in what’s become their second feature film (after Tom and Jerry: The Movie in 1992). In aftermath of the slow-moving development hell, Tom & Jerry finally arrive under WarnerMedia’s cahoot with HBO for a hundred-minute slapstick bonanza between a couple of love-to-hate feline and rodent. This time, their story comes as a live-action and animation hybrid a la Roger Rabbit with Tim Story directing and Chloë Grace Moretz starring alongside the animated duo.
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To be frankly putting this into words, the inclusion of Moretz‘s character along with the drama that juxtaposes with the titular feud shows a lack of confidence in the narrative. The script, after umpteenth revisions, can’t formulate any modus operandi that makes Tom and Jerry’s fight fresh, relevant, and enticing to modern viewers (especially for HBO Max streamers whose ability to skip is just one tap away). Their altercation has been universally known with dozens of shows (with the latest will be the ongoing Tom and Jerry Show), excluding the natural cause of their feud; audiences of any age will be able to see them through.
Not even a story of the duo crashing a high-profile wedding in a creme a la creme luxury hotel under Moretz‘s supervision can flesh out anything deeper than what we already know. Even having familiar comedians like Michael Peña, Ken Jeong, Rob Delaney, and even SNL‘s Colin Jost, Tom & Jerry feels a tad too uninspired. Whether the signature sophisticated contraptions or a simple cat-and-mouse pursuit ended up with either of them stunned, the script seems to have run out of any fresh ideas to make the classic retelling worth more than a simple cash cow. In an ironic fact, Tom and Jerry’s story is pushed away in the background with Moretz‘s story takes up the facade. This gives a way to build a story that doesn’t just feel been-there-done-that; but, at the same time, it takes the spotlight away from the duo.
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Moretz leaps in effectively into the story as a fraud stealing a precious job in the hotel as an event specialist. In a story where all animals are depicted in traditional animation, she jumps into the story adeptly, make-believing she’s interacting with real anthropomorphic cat and mouse or even dog (Spike tags along in this story) as well as scrambling around the hotel pretending to be someone else. Her character’s opportunistic nature makes a necessary entrance for Tom and Jerry’s sadistic tendencies (as well as some occasional truces); but, at the same time, she takes the wind out of the sail for a story titled Tom & Jerry.
Yet, who knows it’s all that the producer and filmmaker behind Tom & Jerry hoping for? At least, younger audiences will still find the constant quarrel amusing in some ways. Older audiences find the nostalgia they’re looking for. The uninspired narrative and the unoriginal visual might be barely engaging, but if that’s not what they’re after, at least this film gets what it deserves.