Tom and Jerry Synopsis: One of the most beloved rivalries in history is reignited when Jerry moves into New York City’s finest hotel on the eve of “the wedding of the century,” forcing Kayla (Chole Grace Moretz), the event’s desperate planner, to hire Tom to get rid of him. The ensuing cat and mouse battle threatens to destroy her career, the wedding and possibly the hotel itself.
Hollywood can’t help itself when it comes to reviving beloved properties. This rapid occurrence seems to impact children’s films more than most, with decades of woeful adaptations (The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks) displaying the industry’s lackluster understanding of these properties’ origins.
History sadly repeats itself with Warner Brothers’ new Tom and Jerry film, which begrudgingly trades in the show’s pratfall strengths for an unnecessary and overworked busyness.
When director Tim Story’s film isn’t getting in its own way, there’s actually some gleeful slapstick moments to indulge in. A cross between traditional 2D animation and live-action opens creative new opportunities for Tom and Jerry to continue their long-standing rivalry. Story’s work operates at its best when displaying the all-out mania of their clashes, letting the two playfully morph a puffy hotel into a battleground for their carnage to ensue. There’s even a few modern touches that complement the frantic sequences well. The inclusion of uptempo hip hop instrumentals adds a lively pulse to the chaotic frames, while veteran stars Chole Grace Moretz and Michael Pena add some charms with their comedic personas.
However, most of Tom and Jerry’s runtime ignores its promising nucleus. One would think all a Tom and Jerry movie needs to do is provide a relentless array of slapstick gags, a feat that the beloved show accomplished throughout its duration. Instead, Tom and Jerry traverses down an all-too-familiar rabbit hole of family film contrivances. Between the lazily-implemented references and lackluster subplots (including forced third-act melodrama), Story’s film conforms far too often to thankless studio mandates.
How many times can a studio thoughtlessly butcher properties before they change their ways? Virtually every one of these kid adaptations adds a human element that registers with a stale, clumsy, and wholly unnecessary aftertaste. The actors try their best to prop up their thinly-constructed characters, but Kevin Costello’s screenplay never shifts out of its autopilot delivery. As the runtime goes on and the character drama quickly takes center stage, Tom and Jerry loses all momentum before eventually overstaying its welcome.
I wanted desperately to get behind Tom and Jerry’s screwball energy, but a bevy of poorly-thought decisions gets in the film’s way at every turn. Either way, I am glad this film’s financial success may be a step to normalcy for the industry’s year-long struggles.
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