What better way to usher in 2021 than a live action “Tom & Jerry” movie that languished in development hell for over a decade? 2021’s “Tom & Jerry” — not to be mistaken with 1992’s “Tom and Jerry: The Movie” — was for many, their first theatrical experience of 2021, though it was simultaneously streamed on HBO Max for a month. I caught the film the last day it was available on HBO Max — presumably it’ll be in purgatory for some time before it once again graces steaming — and I’m glad that I did.
The film follows Jerry Mouse, who makes his home in an expensive Manhattan hotel managed by Mr. Dubros (Rob Delaney) and Terence (Michael Peña). The hotel is hosting the wedding of celebrities Ben (Colin Jost) and Preeta (Pallavi Sharda) and as such, wants to get rid of Jerry to make sure everything is perfect, and they’re hiring an event manager to handle the event. Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), a fast-thinking young woman who needs someone to give her a chance, lies her way into the job and enlists the help of the titular Tom Cat to get rid of Jerry.
This film is comparable to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in which cartoon characters are animated into real-life environments and interact with real-life people, except instead of traditional hand-drawn animation — which, while more time consuming, would have looked infinitely better — the studio chose to go with cheap CG animation that looks great sometimes, but mostly looks like the lazy, detail-less CG that’s in the likes of “Mickey’s Mouse Clubhouse,” and other low-budget cartoons made for toddlers.
And it’s clear that the CG animation really doesn’t work for “Tom & Jerry,” as it’s clear that the 2D slapstick nature of the franchise doesn’t translate well into 3D; It also seems like it’s limited by the live-action spaces the film is shot in. This unfortunately makes the film feel like a weak imitation of previous Tom and Jerry cartoons.
The human cast is also especially weak, with Delany really dropping the ball as the hotel manager, who should be a prime source of humour via his reactions to what’s happening with his hotel (they would have been far better off just casting someone like Phill Lewis, who made a name for himself playing an over-the-top hotel manager in “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody”), Peña phoning it in (he’s just about as good in this as he was in “Fantasy Island”), and Grace Moretz just feeling lost in half the scenes she is in.
This is one of the laziest films I’ve seen in a long time, and it really feels like it only came out because it reached the point where the studio had already invested millions of dollars into the project, and needed to release something.
You’re far better off watching the originals shorts, or even any one of the direct-to-DVD animated films that came out over 10 years ago.
I wouldn’t say that this is an outright bad film, but it goes through the motions and delivers the bare minimum.
“Tom & Jerry” 2021 gets a 4/10