HUMMEL Review: Tom and Jerry (2021)

I genuinely thought we were past this phase of cinema… I really wish we were and yet this film just got plopped down in front of us like we haven’t already gone through a dozen variations on his horror show…

The “CGI animal hanging out with real actors” genre has never been cool. It wasn’t cool in Rocky in Bullwinkle… it wasn’t cool in Alvin and the Chipmunks or Garfield or Scooby Doo… it CERTAINLY wasn’t cool in the Woody the Woodpecker live action movie…

I’m pretty sure the ONLY time this gimmick ever worked was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit but that movie had an actually talented director behind it and an original idea, vision and theme to work with. Now thanks to last year’s Sonic the Hedgehog we’re probably going to see a resurgence of this horrific genre… Thanks a lot gamers…

In any case, this movie was pretty much doomed from the outset. There have been a few animated Tom and Jerry movies over the years and they’ve all been pretty awful. They all either try to recast the energy of the original cartoons onto a random new story or try to be weirdly ambitious and tell a larger story, and in all cases it’s been pointless. The original Tom and Jerry cartoons still holdup just fine and maintain the madcap energy of the classical animation era they came out of.

This new live action movie more or less tries to recapture some of the energy of original cartoon set against a modern setting and cast of actors. The operative word is “try” as the opening credits show a group of animated pigeons beatboxing and singing to a rap song as they fly across the Matthattan skyline. This movie SCREAMS corporate “hip”-speak, like some elderly film producer wanted to try appealing to “the kids” by updating a classic cartoon with rap music, Batman jokes, drones and big name actors. It doesn’t work… It looks and sounds incredibly cringeworthy…

The story more or less begins with the duo of Tom and Jerry arriving in New York City. They’re playing their normal cat and mouse game and evidently live in a world where real life humans and cartoon animals live side by side. They’re both looking for a new home and stumble upon a major New York hotel that’s about to play host to a major wedding.

Set against this story is Chloe Grace Moretz’s character, an unemployed woman seeking a temp job working at the same ritzy New York hotel where the infamous cat and mouse duo have setup shop as their new home. After she lies herself into a job position, she gets caught in their machinations as she must try and convince the destructive duo from causing chaos long enough for her to keep her job.

Everything that follows is perfunctory and well trodden territory. Chloe’s lies eventually start catching up with her as she’s given more and more power the more she lies and the animal’s antics start causing more and more damage to the hotel. We’ve seen this kind of “liar revealed” storyline a hundred times and nothing of note is different here.

The movie occasionally livens up, Michael Pena is on hand and his comedic timing is solid as usual, but the movie is otherwise a 100 minute flatline. The spirit of the original cartoons is lost and the corporate plasticity drowns the film in cynicism and ugly cinematography. The cartoonish 2D animation mostly fits in with the fake looking aesthetic but the whole production looks cheap for as much effort as must’ve gone into rendering and shooting all of it.

That Tom and Jerry exists at all is evidence of just how out of touch some of the people currently working in Hollywood really are. This definitely isn’t a movie that would’ve been greenlit had it been announced before COVID-19, and thankfully the plague ruining it’s box office will prevent another one of these from emerging…

Published by Tyler Hummel

Editor-in-Chief at Cultural Review, College Fix Fellow at Main Street Media, Regular Film Critic for Geeks Under Grace and the New York Sun, Published at ArcDigital, Rebeller, The DailyWire, Hollywood in Toto, Legal Insurrection and The ED Blog, Host of The AntiSocial Network Podcast

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