September 27, 2022

Film Review – Tom & Jerry (2021)

There are a few things certain in life: Tottenham will always continue to get close to glory before the “Spursy” gene kicks in (this intrepid writer is a fan of said team); the Kardashians will continue to be famous even though no-one quite knows how; British summer time will continue to be as erratic as ever; and, of course, in whatever form they take, Tom and Jerry, the loveable animated rogues, will continue to fight with each other no matter how many times Jerry comes out on top. It’s been a while since we have seen the dynamic duo in any shape or form but in the year of their 81st anniversary, they are back on the big screen for audiences to enjoy again. Although enjoy may not be the right word, sadly.

Taking its cues from countless short classics by the legendary Hanna Barbara over the decades – and by the latest rights holders – this new iteration brings our favourite cat and mouse tumbling into the 21st century with a 2D/3D make-over and stuck slap bang into the middle of Manhattan. Tom is trying to make it as a pianist while Jerry is taking refuge in a fancy hotel called the Royal Gate where a high-profile celebrity wedding is due to take place in a few days’ time. Street-smart Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) has hustled her way onto the hotel staff and to avoid any rodent infestations before the wedding, tasks Tom to get rid of Jerry once and for all. The rest you can probably guess but let’s just say all hell breaks loose.

The IP (as the cool kids call it) of the titular duo isn’t perhaps as strong as it used to be now that kids are more taken with Marvel, Star Wars, those loveable Minions and even The Simpsons – heck, some are even allowed to cast their eyes over the world of Rick and Morty – so convincing them to watch a new adventure steeped in a time long past is a tough sell but the box office for the film ($77million and rising in a pandemic world is pretty stellar) suggests there’s life in them still. Yet, for all the limited receipts it has seen rung through the tills, you can’t imagine many of them will remember much of it after they left the cinemas as despite its good intentions, Tom & Jerry is a real stinker.

Cut from the same cloth as Looney Tunes: Back in Action (remember that? Us neither) or Garfield, this misjudged endeavour from director Tim Story and co misses the point entirely as to why these two wonderful creations struck a chord with audiences, instead trying to bring them into the new world with new technologies that not only removes them of their charms and charisma but asks a talented troupe of actors to act with tennis balls and over compensate for the lack of chemistry and fun, the latter being the most important of all. Limping from one half-arsed set piece to another, T&J struggles to make any impact, choosing to patronise its core audience rather than try to stimulate them.

Moretz, still hugely underrated in her craft, tries her best to inject some charm into proceedings, as does the ever-reliable Ken Jeong but it’s too little, too late with its humourless nature made even worse by reducing Michael Peña to not only an irritation but to dog poop scooper. When Michael Peña is reduced to the gutter, you know how far a film has sunk to try to be funny.

★ 1/2

Animation, comedy | USA, 2021 | U | Video On Demand | 25th March 2021 (UK) | Warner Bros. Pictures | Dir. Tim Story | Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Tom , Jerry, Ken Jeong, Rob Delaney