Keep your kids far, far away from this abysmal train-wreck of a film.
Tom and Jerry hit HBO Max this week, so I figured I’d might as well get my money’s worth out of the service and check it out. Big mistake. This mixed up, insufferable monstrosity of a film is pretty much the definition of unwatchable.
I will say up front that this review is going to get salty, so it’s not kid friendly. Which works out nicely, since Tom and Jerry seems to make no effort to appeal to kids either.
Tom and Jerry (2021)
A legendary rivalry reemerges when Jerry moves into New York City’s finest hotel on the eve of the wedding of the century, forcing the desperate event planner to hire Tom to get rid of him. As mayhem ensues, the escalating cat-and-mouse battle soon threatens to destroy her career, the wedding, and possibly the hotel itself.
Like all of the finest flim-flam, the above movie synopsis from WB is technically true. It’s also disingenuous as hell. It, along with the trailer, is desperately trying to convince parents on the fence that this is just more of the questionably wholesome, violence-loaded old cat and mouse cartoons they grew up on. It also completely misrepresents our characters and the tenor of the film.
We meet our protagonists as Tom is riding the L train hobo-style, looking to make his mark in the city as a street musician. Classic kid fare. Meanwhile, Jerry is looking at rat-trap apartments with chalk outlines of mice on the doorstep. Cute.
They meet in the park, where Tom is scamming families pretending to be a blind musician. Jerry decides to fuck over a blind cat (who we have no reason to believe he’s ever met before, because unlike the trailer, it’s not established this isn’t their first meeting) by setting up his tip cup in front of Tom and stealing his crowd. Great stuff.
Finally, we meet Chloë Grace Moretz’ character, who is in the process of scamming a free meal from a fancy hotel cause she just got fired from her gig job. She then cons a qualified woman out of her resume when she learns they are hiring, and gets the job under an assumed identity. What a trio of sweethearts!
Who Is This for Again?
You can tell from the jump that this movie isn’t primarily for kids. It’s barely even incidentally for kids. We begin with, shit you not, a trio of rapping pigeons. The lead pigeon then blasts one of the other pigeons in the face with bird shit.
The film does recycle iconic bits from the cartoon, but in such a lazy fashion that it’s obviously just an Easter egg for folks who grew up on them. They’re so short and pointless that they’re definitely not going to raise a legion of Tom and Jerry converts from any kids unfortunate enough to be in the audience.
At first, it was hard to guess who this film was trying to appeal to. An opening song from A Tribe Called Quest? A story about trying to find an apartment and work in NYC? Gig work? References to Jon Legend and Drake? Vintage sneaker call-outs? Tons of name-drops for mainstream movies people mistake as “cult classics”?
This movie is aimed at Brooklyn hipsters.
Everything Is a Miserable Waste.
It wouldn’t be completely terrible if Warner Bros. was just trying to pitch T&J to a new niche. I mean, it would still be a shitty movie, as we’re about ten years past the expiration date for that scene, and the pandering is so damn obvious that even ego-stroked hipsters could smell the bullshit. It is terrible that WB is walking over so many corpses to get there.
I hope the paychecks were nice and round with lots of zeroes, cause this film craps all over the talents of the cast. From the little I’ve seen, Chloe Grace Moretz should be better than this. Michael Peña is definitely better than this. Colin Jost…is not better than this, but even he gets a black eye for his tone-deaf and entitled role. Ken Jeong, as the mercurial chef irked by Jerry’s pilfering, has the chops to be better than this, but is a non-entity as the film gives him nothing to do. There’s essentially no reason for any of the live-action actors; they play roles you could film from the knees down.
I guess you could say the worst bit is that Tom and Jerry should be better than this. I grew up when the cartoons were still in heavy rotation. I didn’t love them (I fervently wished Jerry, the Roadrunner, Tweety, etc all got dismembered and eaten on screen every time I saw them.) But they had an identity and established the whole chase cartoon genre that drove an era. A bygone era. One that this film does nothing to revitalize or even pay service to.
Go watch Mouse Hunt instead.