REVIEW: ‘Tom and Jerry’ live action film is ultimately uninspired

Still+from+%22Tom+and+Jerry%2C%22+starring+Chloe+Grace+Moretz.

IMDB

Still from “Tom and Jerry,” starring Chloe Grace Moretz.

The beloved Tom and Jerry franchise recently took its dip into the live action plus animated genre. The film, titled “Tom and Jerry” and directed by Tim Story, went live on HBO Max last weekend. With a free trial of HBO Max in hand, my roommate and I set out to watch the latest installment of a childhood favorite. What we found was a surprisingly funny movie with a rudimentary plot that was just about good enough.

“Tom and Jerry” is an origin story, which shows the cat and mouse meeting for the first time in New York City, where Jerry is looking for an apartment befitting a mouse. Tom is working the streets with his piano, playing for tips. When Jerry tries to capitalize on Tom’s playing by advertising himself as a dancing mouse, their rivalry begins.

Tom and Jerry end up at a prestigious hotel where a famous couple is set to get married. The main human character, Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), is a young woman looking to get a job by any means possible, including stealing the resume of a qualified applicant for a vacant position at the hotel. 

The main issue with the plot is that Kayla doesn’t seem to have any motivations to get this job that are shown in the plot. We don’t really get her backstory, why she was in the hotel specifically or what she was trying to do with the position she weasled her way into. That is part of the reason many critics disliked this film.

Kayla reports directly to the hotel’s events manager, Terence (Michael Peña), who is equally as random and uninspired as her. Their interactions don’t add much to the film, which is mainly funny when Tom and Jerry engage in their classic, slapstick battles. The center of their conflict is with preparation for the wedding between celebrity couple Preeta (Pallavi Sharda) and Ben (Colin Jost). Preeta takes a liking to Kayla, who helps her with her bridesmaids’ preparations.

The human cast in this movie almost feels like a throwaway, even with a few quality comedic actors. It seems like director Tim Story was delivering two different comedies, and didn’t quite blend Tom and Jerry with the human cast. Story’s past works didn’t really create confidence in the viewer that he would make something world-turning out of this, but overall, the movie was more enjoyable than critics would let you think.

At one point, when his cartoon dog is freaking out, Colin Jost calms down the hotel concierge by saying his dog is “just a little animated.” That’s the kind of joke I really appreciate in a movie like this. The movie was not taking itself that seriously. It also helped me realize that Jerry’s full name is Jerome A. Mouse.

What made Tom and Jerry a long-running pair of characters is the pioneering of slapstick humor in animation. There is plenty of that in this movie. It takes Tom and Jerry to the streets of New York, a relatively new place for the both of them. This means we get to see Tom falling down a skyscraper on to the ground multiple times in a row, Jerry making an apartment for himself in the vent of a hotel and the two chasing one another between the busy streets of NYC, among other interesting set pieces. 

There isn’t much deeper meaning to this movie other than the humor of Tom and Jerry. The human characters are generally boring and just tiredly push the story along. Both Peña and Moretz have their moments, as well as Jost and Sharda. But overall, the movie seems unnoteworthy and basic, pushes a romance as uninspired as the overall script and slides out of one ear as soon as it enters the other.