Let’s face it, the Tom and Jerry cartoon works best as animated shorts rather than feature films. For the latter, they have released over 10 of them including Tom and Jerry: The Movie back in the early 1990s. That animated feature was, of course, infamously made the titular cat and mouse speak than rendering them mute as seen in the original cartoon series.
Fortunately, in the all-new Tom & Jerry movie, director Tim Story (2005’s Fantastic Four, 2019’s Shaft) made the smart decision not to repeat the same mistake. The only significant difference here is the 2D animation/live-action hybrid reminiscent of Robert Zemeckis’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit-style. The visual choice looks decent enough for what it is, even though I personally prefer if Story went full steam ahead with completely 2D hand-drawn animation.
So, in this movie version, we see Tom and Jerry in New York City, where the latter seeking a place to stay. But it doesn’t take long before Jerry takes up residence at the prestigious Royal Gate Hotel.
The movie also introduced a human character in the form of Kayla (Chloe Grace Moretz), who managed to lie her way into landing a job as a hotel employee overseeing the upcoming lavish Indian-themed wedding event for Ben (Colin Jost) and Preeta (Pallavi Sharda). Unfortunately, there is one problem needed to be addressed immediately: the hotel can’t afford to risk its reputation for having a mouse wandering around. With Kayla tasked to get rid of the mouse as quickly as possible, she subsequently enlists the help of Tom to do the mouse-catching job.
Story manages to pull off a few worthwhile slapstick gags involving Tom and Jerry, which brings back some of those good old nostalgia factors. Both Chloe Grace Moretz and Michael Pena, who appears as the hotel’s deputy manager give adequate performances in their respective roles. Ken Jeong, who plays the hotel’s head chef, is somewhat underutilised.
The plot, however — credited to Kevin Costello, whose prior works include 2017’s Brigsby Bear and TV’s Jean-Claude Van Johnson — is largely a mixed bag. Sure, we shouldn’t expect anything sophisticated for an animated feature like Tom & Jerry other than sit-back-and-enjoy-kind of fun commonly associated with this franchise. And yet, Tom & Jerry tends to overstay its welcome with the movie’s protracted 101-minute length that could have used some serious trimming. Not to mention some of the jokes fall flat as well. Other times, we see the movie tries to slip in a few obligatory moral lessons — with one of them happens to be the familiar theme of redemption — in the human side of the drama (the one involved Kayla and the wedding couple).
Personally, I felt the whole wedding-couple subplot drags the movie a lot, with Colin Jost and Pallavi Sharda’s underwritten characters failed to make me root for them. If only Story could have done us a favour by presenting more Tom and Jerry and less human interactions, the result would have been a better movie than what we got here instead.