Adapting cartoons to film can be done in different ways. Sometimes they are just an extended tv episode, other times characters are animated into the real world, and sometimes they are played by John Goodman. There is no “correct” way to bring Saturday morning nostalgia to the big screen. Despite that, I can unequivocally say that Tom & Jerry does it incorrectly.
After lying about her credentials, Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) gets a job at a prestigious hotel. But when Jerry (the mouse of the story, for those who don’t know) takes up residence in the hotel, Tom (you guessed it, the cat!) is hired by Kayla to drive him out of the building. This is especially important, as the hotel is hosting an enormous wedding. Things get even more complicated as the bride, Preeta (Pallavi Sharda), and groom, Ben (Colin Jost), bring their bulldog, Spike.
All of this sounds like it’s just a set up to let Tom & Jerry do their Tom & Jerry thing. Anyone who has seen the TV show knows what to expect. Each episode is just a game of literal cat and mouse. Tom chases Jerry and Jerry finds new and clever ways to best Tom at every turn. It’s a thin premise but is consistently executed in a way that keeps it fresh. The two are always finding new shenanigans to get into and new ways to hurt one another.
Not Enough Tom & Jerry
The problem with this new movie, though, is that it is not just a set up for Tom & Jerry to do their Tom & Jerry thing. Weirdly, the duo is kind of pushed to the side for a good chunk of the movie. The human characters get way more screen time than the title suggests. Then again, I doubt there are many children clamoring to see Colin Jost Gets Married.
A movie called Tom & Jerry sets itself up with a certain expectation. Audiences anticipate their favorite cat and mouse getting into hi-jinks and various bits of slapstick humor. Don’t get me wrong, those moments are in this movie. But they are not nearly enough to make up for the lame story beats of the human characters and their lives.
Lack of Enthusiasm
Several of the actors in the movie are people I like in other works. Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Colin Jost, and Rob Delaney have all made me laugh in previous roles. In this, they all seem to know the movie is a dud while the camera is rolling. None of them are really trying to make the jokes land nor are they trying to convince us to care. They are repeating their lines, with zero enthusiasm, as if their mind is wandering to what they might do with the paycheck they will receive from their time on set.
The moments with the duo engaging in their cat and mouse chase are fun. There are some moments that generate a little bit of excitement but they are quickly diminished by the scenes without them. What we are left with is an unfunny, poorly made film that elicits few sparks of joy. Tom & Jerry are great characters when they are the main attraction. With that being said, it is probably best that you stick to the TV show, where they are.