Tom and Jerry: Gags Are Fine In Overlong Comedy

(L-r) TOM and JERRY in Warner Bros. Pictures’ animated/live-action adventure “TOM AND JERRY,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

There are a lot of hysterical gags in live-action/animated hybrid comedy Tom and Jerry but the gags alone aren’t enough to save the film.

The long time cat-and-mouse rivalry–now in its 81st year–is set up against “the wedding of the century.”  Things move into motion when event planner Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) hires Tom Cat to get rid of Jerry Mouse.  When you know their history, you already know bad things are going to happen.  Of course, Kayla has to keep things under control without supervisor Terence (Michael Peña) catching onto her.  Mr. Dubros (Rob Delaney) may be the hotel manager but he honestly has no clue what’s happening under his nose.

The Royal Gate Hotel is a fancy hotel–one of the finest in New York City.  It just won’t be so fancy by the end of the film.  You don’t make it a point to show off the fancy glass ceiling and NOT destroy it during the film!  Sure enough, this is exactly what transpires later on during the film!  It’s not a spoiler to say that these two are going to cause a lot of damage.  I mean, you KNOW what you’re getting with Tom and Jerry!  You can’t help but feel bad for Ben (Colin Jost) and Preeta (Pallavi Sharda).  They are having one of the biggest events ever held during the hotel’s history!  It’s just not going to end well.  It’s not unfair to say that we probably knew this would happen going into the film.

If you’re like me, you grew up watching Tom and Jerry on television.  Chances are strong that I watched Tom and Jerry: The Movie when it hit U.S. theaters in 1993.  The film is also the last one to get a theatrical release in the franchise until now.  A total of 12 animated films (an average of 67 minutes) in the franchise have gotten a direct-to-video release starting in 2002.  But in terms of the gags, one can make the argument that Kevin Costello’s script lives up to their spirit.  However, at the end of the day, the movie is just way too long at 101 minutes.  The run time makes this film the longest in the franchise by over 15 minutes.  Some of the gags are outright hysterical (the wedding!) but they cannot save the film.

The biggest problem in watching the hybrid is that the animation feels off against the live-action.  The characters appear in vintage 2D animation.  I want to stress that I love hand-drawn animation.  Unfortunately, we never really see it in movies anymore because of where technology is today.  Maybe it’s because I’m so used to characters in 3D in recent years but the 2D animation just felt off.  I get that the animators are paying homage to the original shorts.  At the same time, technology is now at a point where 3D animation certainly could work in this situation.

Battersea Park, London and Fulmer Wood in Slough stand in for Central Park in New York City.  Don’t worry, a second unit was on hand to film the park in NYC.  It just wouldn’t feel authentic otherwise.  The Royal Gate Hotel itself could certainly rival that of the Plaza or the Waldorf Astoria.

There is also a takeaway in the film’s message.  It is important to listen when you’re in a relationship.  We see this alone in Ben and Preeta’s relationship.  The two get in over their head.  This really shows.  Preeta wants a small wedding.  Ben wants to please her and their wedding grows bigger.  But really, Ben just wants to please Preeta’s father.  Oh, weddings.  Things just begin to grow out of control.  Throw in a cat and mouse.  Well, you already know what will happen!

Aside from that, the film could really have used more of sports broadcaster Joe Buck.  The scene in question is fun and pays homage to Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS.  Only this time, the New York Yankees are in the field while their opponents are at bat.  I just really miss baseball, okay!

Tom and Jerry is merely okay–kids will have fun with the film and that’s what matters at the end of the day.

DIRECTOR:  Tim Story
SCREENWRITER:  Kevin Costello
CAST:  Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Colin Jost, Rob Delaney, Pallavi Sharda, Jordan Bolger, Patsy Ferran, Nicky Jam, Bobby Cannavale, Lil Rel Howery, and Ken Jeong

Warner Bros. released Tom and Jerry in theaters and HBO Max on February 26, 2021.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.