A film like Tom & Jerry is almost immune to reviews. Kids fare like this is somewhat critic-proof. Parents are already going in with the expectation that, give or take some nostalgia, it’ll likely try their patience. At the same time, when you see substandard fare like this film, it’s part of the job to say so. Whatever fun the creative forces (and I use that term loosely) had in mind for this movie, it did not translate. The mix of animation and live-action only serves to highlight how misguided the whole thing is. Aside from distracting children on HBO Max for about 100 minutes or so, this serves absolutely no purpose.
Tom & Jerry is a mix of broad and unfunny live action, as well as half-hearted animation. Why this isn’t just a cartoon is beyond me. Who is coming to see a Tom & Jerry movie expecting human beings? Literally, is there anyone? The logic just isn’t there, but then again, it’s not in any of the film, whatsoever. This is likely to try your patience. I know it did with mine.
Set in New York City, this is met to be an origin story for the pair. Tom is busking in Central Park with a keyboard, pretending to be blind. Jerry is looking for a place to live, despite not having any money. When he comes across Tom getting a few bucks with his act, he tries to work his way in, leading to their first fight. This chase across the park runs them into Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young woman about to lose her job. By chance, she finds her way into a swanky hotel, where she cons them into giving her a prestigious position. Inspired, Jerry follows, while Tom attempts to get in.
Faced with having to deal with a rogue mouse on the grounds, Kayla employs Tom to get rid of Jerry. As they match wits, she has to deal with a suspicious boss in Terence (Michael Pena), alongside a high-profile marriage going on at the hotel. Making a deal with the animals, she hopes to keep the peace long enough to prove herself at the job. Of course, chaos ensues.
I felt terrible for the human cast. Chloë Grace Moretz is saddled with a thankless role, while Michael Pena is about as cartoonish a villain as it gets. They’re given nothing to work with, and it shows. The rest of the supporting cast fares no better. The likes of Rob Delaney, Ken Jeong, Colin Jost, Pallavi Sharda, and more are just wasting time. Then, there’s Tom and Jerry themselves (credited as such, too), who should fire their agents. They deserved better, too.
Director Tim Story completely bungles this. Sure, screenwriter Kevin Costello is responsible for the inane and nonsensical plot, but Story somehow makes it all seem dumber than it already is. All of the animals here are cartoons, which leads to bizarre logic, since some are slightly anthropomorphized, some are less so, and some are just animals. It’s all just stupid, and worse, it never even comes close to being funny. One animated cameo is mildly amusing, but in a somehow 100 minute film, that just doesn’t cut it.
Tom & Jerry will amuse little kids, because it looks bright and shiny. Then again, maybe it won’t, especially if they have good taste. There’s nothing inside, however, and that will ruin this for adults. If you have children, along with HBO Max, it’s probably an acceptable diversion. If you’re actually planning on watching the film for enjoyment purposes, you likely should reconsider. This is a terrible movie, one that will have you groaning instead of laughing.