The new film, Tom & Jerry, might not be the first time the titular animated cat and mouse have interacted with live-action people – that honor goes to 1945's Anchors Aweigh, which saw Jerry Mouse tap-dancing with Gene Kelly – nor their first feature-length picture – that being 1992's Tom and Jerry: The Movie – but it might be the first feature featuring the pair to really get things right.
Notably, the 1992 film saw the pair speaking, with Tom and Jerry voiced by Richard Kind and Dana Hill, respectively, a choice not at all well-received by critics. In this latest incarnation, director Tim Story and writer Kevin Costello seem to be going for a format inspired by the live-action versions of The Chipmunks or Garfield, wherein the longtime characters behave as they have since their first appearances, but inserted into a modern context.
Actually, ‘formula’ may be a more accurate word than ‘format’, because the plots of these films are essentially interchangeable: the animated characters do their thing, the situation goes awry, the real-world people learn some things, the animate characters help fix the problem that they've cause, and everything ends with a happy song. Hooray.
Tom & Jerry does manage to one-up everything, because when it comes to the cat and mouse duo, the film keeps it true to the characters' roots. The live action Tom & Jerry movie is exactly the 100% dumb comedy worth watching after a long, stressful day, as it is stupid and violent and full of bad jokes. Tom and Jerry beat each other up, cause massive amounts of chaos and damage, with a general aspect of mayhem pervading their every interaction together.
That said, they are animals. The rest of the film is filled with main characters who constantly fuck everything up with lies and/or self-indulgence: Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) lies to several people in order to get her job at the Royal Gate Hotel and actively gaslights Terence (Michael Peña), who then tries to ruin the wedding of Preeta (Pallavi Sharda) and Ben (Colin Jost), the latter of which doesn't seem to care much what his soon-to-be bride wants in her own wedding.
The only good people in the film are tertiary characters who try their hardest and manage to be smart, good folks who know what they're doing and have good ideas, like Joy the Bell Girl (Patsy Ferran), doorman Gavin (Daniel Adegboyega), and bartender Cameron (Jordan Bolge). Not for nothing are they the only human characters who aren't exasperating.
That said, the animation is good, and the idea to have every single animal – be it the pigeons flying in the city, butterflies, or the two massive elephants – as animated characters is a really clever stroke, which lends a bit of world-building to any otherwise silly comedy aimed at kids. There's also a Droopy the Dog cameo that ought not be spoiled in its details, but will leave those who get it gasping for breath with laughter.
While not perfect, it's perfectly serviceable entertainment for a weeknight post-dinner couch viewing, and will leave kids and adults alike satisfied.
Release Date: out now (Digital), May 24th (Blu-ray/DVD)