Tom and Jerry (2021)

Warner Animation props up the long rotted corpse of “Tom and Jerry” long enough to produce what I’m sure they hoped would be a blockbuster big screen adaptation. For a series that’s been languishing on video store shelves with cheaply made, watered down animated movies for years, it’s not a surprise that “Tom and Jerry” is about as bland as ever. It’s also not at all surprising that Tim Story is the man called on to deliver such an inoffensive, forgettable, mishmash of weird ideas and concepts.

Tom and Jerry make it New York City for… reasons. Tom is a piano player hoping to play alongside John Legend for… reasons, while Jerry is hoping to pursue dancing (?). After duking it out, they end up at a posh hotel where young Kayla schemes her way in to a job as a hostess. Bonding with a young affluent couple (Colin Jost, Pallavi Sharda) planning to marry, Kayla has to enlist Tom to help catch Jerry before the wedding. Also there’s singing pigeons and a middle Eastern rat for… reasons?

“Tom and Jerry” would be awful if it weren’t so painfully milquetoast. That’s not totally unexpected as a lot of the original shorts prominently featured the mammy trope as one of the central antagonists of the pairing. But Tim Story and the script don’t even seem to try, instead tossing in concepts that feel ripped out of 2005. There’s a heavy hip hop soundtrack, the titular pair plays second fiddle in their own movie, and Tom even does a celebratory Floss dance in one instance. Worse, the movie wastes an ensemble cast of very talented, funny performers like Colin Jost, Ken Jeong, Michael Peňa, and Rob Delaney.

At the very least Chloe Moretz is absolutely adorable in the lead role, and I hope we can see more of Pallavi Sharda soon. It just takes a special kind of incompetence to waste the aforementioned cast. What’s bizarre about the movie is the universe it’s set in. The movie makes a point of establishing that there are no real animals but animated animals, and they’re treated like regular animals. And no one ever really pays mind to the fact that they can act independently and occasionally even talk (Spike the dog is voiced by Bobby Cannavale for… reasons). It’s very bizarre how they just lay the groundwork for this concept. Meanwhile the writers never really do much to integrate the characters save for Tom and Jerry.

And their plot becomes nothing more than a series of side gags as Kayla spends her time trying to bring the rich couple together, and whatever else is going on around her. “Tom and Jerry” fails to invigorate the property for a new generation, instead feeling like someone stapled the characters on to a rejected Gary Marshall romcom. I think it’s safe to say that even kids might have a hard time finding any entertainment value here. At least we have the original shorts from Hanna Barbera.

Now In Theaters and Streaming Exclusively on HBO Max.