Directed By Tim Story
Starring – Chloe Grace Moretz, Michael Pena, Rob Delaney
The Plot – A legendary rivalry re-emerges when Jerry moves into New York City’s finest hotel on the eve of the wedding of the century, forcing the desperate event planner (Moretz) to hire Tom to get rid of him. As mayhem ensues, the escalating cat-and-mouse battle soon threatens to destroy her career, the wedding, and possibly the hotel itself.
Rated PG for cartoon violence, rude humor and brief adult language
– Superb direction. The essence of the original cartoon is faithfully rendered in Story’s handling care of the property, complete with a cartoonish style of mayhem and carnage that is terrifically elicited in the movie’s creative identity. What articulates this element of production is Tim’s vivid eye for detail in camera movements that not only channel the rampant speed of the two titular animated protagonists, but also feeds into the overall element of imagination that the entirety of the production centers around. Throughout the compositions, there are varied levels of height and enthusiasm sprinkled in these very urgently fast-paced sequences, which in turn allows the freedom for the animation in post-production to spring and sprawl as effectively as needed, giving a new lease on life for a style in animation that was decades ahead of its time at its inception.
– Likeable leads. I’m not saying that the performances were anything challenging or remotely filled with dramatic depth, but I do feel that the casting of Moretz and Pena in particularly were favorable to the integrity of the film, and showcased the talents of each remarkably for what the script asked of them. For Pena, that is a dominance on physicality that showcases him bouncing from one wall and object to the next, all the while encasing the bumbling buffoonary that has made him a familiar face in slapstick comedies over the last decade. As for Chloe, she’s clearly an actress who is not afraid to get lost in the element of her environment, choosing to commit to some awful lines of dialogue, and making the most of the opportunity that other actresses would sleep through. Chloe’s fun for the material translates superbly to the enjoyment of the audience, and cements her as the perfect lead to appeal to the older audiences who grew up with her, as well as the youthful audiences who are engaging her for the first time.
– Lavish setting. In setting this film in New York City and an upper class hotel respectively, it adds to the elements of an environment that eventually come into play with the progression of the narrative and all of its additional subplots. The world’s most popular city certainly gives this film a big screen appeal, but beyond that it’s the way the imagery and styles inside of the dominant hotel adds to a gorgeously decadent presentation, and one that we as an experienced audience know is only seconds away from being leveled completely by the single longest rivalry in animated entertainment. Even despite its mass in size, the hotel itself perseveres with a claustrophobic sense of resonance of reality that bottles each of these combustible elements under one roof, and takes something as elegantly classical as an early 20th century hotel decor, and contradicts it with barrage of guests who turn it into a full fledged zoo.
– Clever winks. Fans and non-fans of the show will be rewarded with a few instances of universal characters and non-universal satire that produces some pretty enjoyable gags in the form of familiarity. One such instance involves a four-legged rival of Tom’s who the audience should be able to piece together without problem, and other instances involve gags and situations that were quite literally lifted from the show, like “The Flying Cat”, and given new life with a contemporary rendering. As for outsider mentions, there’s allusions to a particular Dark Knight, musical familiarity from Peter Rabbit in the form of a trio of feathered crooners, and another animated duo that makes this one of the more interesting animated crossovers since the world’s of Family Guy and The Simpsons crossed paths. It provides respect for its heritage in ways that adds dimensions to the world established, and gives us several moments of reality breaking fantasy that appealed to my inner child.
– Passable humor. While definitely not the funniest movie of the year, or even one I’d choose to watch again for its comic timing, there are plenty of instances of legitimate effective laughs scattered throughout “Tom and Jerry” that showcase the duo in their finest form. Most of it is in the post-Charlie Chaplin style of silent comedy that really show off the emotional resonance of the animation, and articulates a creativity in comedy that is unfortunately not as relevant in current times. In fact, each time that Tom and Jerry share the screen, my interest and the movie’s material elevated with attention, and made the human side of the story an obvious weakness when compared to the duo that people paid to see. It offers a pleasurable enough distraction from the world that throws in some unshakeable smiles along the way, reminding us of that suppressed innocence in humor that existed before the elements of rude and crude took shape.
– Faulty animation. There’s respect to be made from the decision to keep the original style of animation as the original television cartoon, just vividly enhanced on color to give a dazzling sheen, but for my money it’s the way this style looked when compared to a live action environment surrounding it that presented no shortage of problems in believability along the way. Even with Story’s enthusiastic direction, the problems arrive quite often with the lack of impact from these animated properties when compared to their live action protagonists and sets that they collide with, complete with an overall inconsistency in weight for the characters that creates an abundance of logic holes along the way. In addition, the layering of the animation isn’t as vibrant or three-dimensional as the live action properties surrounding it, which doesn’t allow them to stand out artistically as the production was hoping in casting this in the real world. Without an update to the animation, they should’ve just kept this a completely animated film. At least then the law of gravity would feel authentic.
– Rushed information. With dialogue as apparent and obvious as this screenplay has, it should come as no surprise that there are periodic moments of exposition dumps in between its 90 minute presentation that are every bit obvious as they are poorly planned. One such instance takes place during the film’s initial engagement inside the hotel, which gives Moretz character, like us, a convenient opportunity to learn about everything and everyone inside of it. It’s easily detectable because it pauses everything else taking shape within the realm of the story for ten minutes of explanation with psychic powers of its own. In fact, it’s remarkable how everything mentioned during these long-winded diatribes materialize into some measure of impact to the progression of the story. Surely if characters are this capable to see a proverbial train coming from a mile away, then they could do everything in their power to stop it. But then again, that wouldn’t make for the most entertaining of movies, would it?
– Outdated soundtrack. This appears to be a growing cliche for all contemporary family flicks with an agenda to add an element of hip hop cool to its many characters and personality within the film. However, that motivation for a movie taking place in 2021 would probably do best to sample some of the current tastes to convey its sense of musical interest, otherwise, it makes the film feel outdated with its selections. If it happens once or twice, it’s fine, but the abundance of choices from A Tribe Called Quest, to Eric B and Rakim, to many others, will fall on deaf ears with a majority of the youthful audience that take it in. The mostly jazz-infused musical score from composer Christopher Larentz is equally contradictory to these inclusions, conjuring up several compositions that speak to the elegance of the environment instead of the essence of hip hop that the song choices allude to.
– Entirely predictable. If you’re watching this film to gain some new insight or perspective on Tom or Jerry, or even to be surprised with an abundance of stakes that the show very rarely capitalized on, keep moving on. This is very much a one-dimensional screenplay with only temporary conflict, that seems to resolve itself a scene or two later. Once you understand the structure of the narrative, you will start to easily piece together how all of this will come along, complete with formulaic cliches that have become a mainstay in contemporary kids films. I wish this film would’ve took more chances with its duo of protagonists in order to justify the extension of their universe with the big screen appropriation, but as it stands this is very much a bland screenplay that goes entirely the way you would expect it to, leaving all elements of chance on the shelf for an installment that is quite literally the definition of safe.
My Grade: 6/10 or C