Soulless cash in on a beloved franchise
TOM AND JERRY (2021)
I loved cartoons growing up, as I'm sure most people did, and I can honestly still look back on some of the classics like Looney Tunes with fondness. One cartoon that I always placed in the god-tier of classic animation was Tom and Jerry. Nowadays, Tom and Jerry is relegated to straight to DVD garbage, but at one time, Tom and Jerry were special; great animation, funny gags, and always engaging chases. It was a fast paced cartoon that didn't waste time. Well… I guess it's time to talk about the new movie adaptation. I'm not going to sugar coat this, the new Tom and Jerry movie is absolutely awful. It's exactly what I expected it'd be. A lazy, boring, unfunny, and soulless cash-in on a beloved franchise.
Tim Story (Fantastic Four & Ride Along) directs this live action/animation hybrid and does so in a way that only Tim Story could do; I don't mean that in a positive way. No offense to Story but he's a very, very boring director. He does very little to add any style to any of his movies. The best style I get is that he likes his movies to have oversaturated colors. That's about it. I've watched a ton of his films, and I can't pinpoint anything he does well. He's not good with actors or with action or comedy.
All that being said, the direction here is just plain bad. Nothing about the way this movie is shot feels unique. There are tons of static shots with slight pans just to show Tom and Jerry going around wrecking the place. Some of that chaos is classic Tom and Jerry, but I'd give the animators the real credit, not the director. His actors are all left to embarrass themselves with extremely weak dialogue, bad attempts at comedy, and a lot of scenes that just go on way too long. The pacing is bad, which should be a cardinal sin for ANY Tom and Jerry related thing.
It's a fairly typical story. The human characters take up most of the screen time, meaning Tom and Jerry are relegated to supporting characters. Instead of fun Tom and Jerry shenanigans, we get a generic and boring story about a hotel that wants to host a wedding. The Tom and Jerry bits are there, but it's so lazily done and nothing you haven't seen in the much better animated bits before, so I kept asking myself, "What's the point?" It doesn't help that all of the characters are unlikeable and the dialogue is so painfully bad at times that I couldn't help but cringe. I honestly think the story from the Tom and Jerry movie from the early 90s was better, and that movie was utter garbage as well.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I felt true embarrassment for these actors. If they're not grimacing to the camera, they're reading off horrible dialogue that wouldn't even be passable in a below average cartoon, let alone a great one. Chloe Grace Moretz is a great actress, and it's a shame that she ever said yes to this because her dialogue is the worst. Her acting is the equivalent to a lead in a really bad Disney channel movie. There's a scene right in the beginning where she's talking on the phone to someone, and the acting was so wooden that I couldn't believe it. It honestly gave me whiplash from how quickly the acting became horrible.
The rest of the cast doesn't fare any better with both Michael Peña and Ken Jeong playing the exact characters you've seen them play many times before. Can we all agree that if a movie has Ken Jeong in it then it's probably going to be terrible? I'm almost at the point where Peña is at that same level. He's lucky he's so good in those Ant-Man movies.
None of the characters are inspired and mainly annoy me to no end. We're supposed to care about these characters and their relationships but I never, ever did because I'm here for Tom and Jerry. I'll give the movie credit here, at least Tom and Jerry acted like Tom and Jerry for the most part. They also never talked, which is one improvement over that last Tom and Jerry movie.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Probably the only highlight in the movie is the half decent animation. The CG animation trying to replicate 2D animation isn't as bad as I thought it would be when I first heard that's what they were doing. It's certainly not great, and at times looks kind of cheap; mainly in close ups on the CG models, but the action between Tom and Jerry is easily the highlight and the animation is the best when those two are interacting.
The interactions between the humans and cartoons though is a different story. The animation can't quite make you believe that these cartoons are in the same world as Peña’s or Moretz's characters, and the moments where they physically interact just didn't work for me. I blame the direction and acting more than the animation, because the actors just look awkward whenever they try to interact with Tom, Jerry, or whoever. They gave it their best shot I'm sure, but it just looks bad. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, this is not!
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Did you ever want to hear cartoon pigeons rap in the beginning of your Tom and Jerry movie? No!?! Really? Well, I'm sorry to say that's the kind of thing that's scattered throughout the movie. Very uninspired when it comes to it's soundtrack and score. The only redeeming factor is the use of some classic Tom and Jerry sound effects (which the original Tom and Jerry had some of the best in the business) here and there. I will never get tired of hearing Tom's scream, and luckily it's here in all of its glory!
Tom and Jerry is just as uninspired and awful as I was expecting it would be. I'm not sure if I made it clear throughout my review, but I truly loathe this movie. This is the kind of "film" that always gets a pass because it's "meant for kids,'' so why criticize it? There are tons and tons of fantastic movies that kids, teens, and adults can all watch and enjoy together that forgiving something that is so bottom of the barrel like this shouldn't be accepted. Especially when it's based on a property that should get more respect than this trash. This movie is nothing. It's a big slap in the face to anyone who loves the classic Tom and Jerry animations and to anyone who wants a quality movie for the entire family to enjoy. Long story short, I didn't like it.