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MOVIES: Tom and Jerry - Review

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The latest iteration of Tom and Jerry, released today in the UK, feels like a movie that can’t commit to its premise. It sets up what should be a simple, nailed down, hotel-invasion type movie with Tom and Jerry’s antics spoiling a wedding, but it fails to stick the landing at pretty much all accounts, abandoning its premise at every turn in favour of a new idea that tries to outdo the last, failing to recreate the magic of Tom and Jerry that has made them such a beloved cartoon figure in the first place.

Most of these movies that mix live action and animation revolve around human characters with an arc in conjunction to the animated characters – you’ve seen it time and time again, with Sonic the Hedgehog, Detective Pikachu and other films of its ilk, they make the same mistake of thinking that these human characters are strong enough to carry the movie and make it relatable to the audience, and nine times out of ten, they’re not – and it’s the same again here.

Unfortunately, Chloë Grace Moretz suffers from a script that does her no favours, casting her in the role of a young, ambitious hotel employee who has lied about her resume to get the job and suddenly finds herself over her head when things go right for her at first. It’s the same bland approach that is tried and tested, the wacky hijinks of the animated characters suffer as a result, and they aren’t as creative as they could have been as they’re tied down by the limitations of having some resemblance of a realistic storyline, that feels about as artificial and fake as the animated characters themselves.

Tim Story’s reinvention of Tom and Jerry attempts to update it for a modern audience: there’s the usual gag about social media platforms being misnamed by adults (it’s the sort of movie where Tiktok is referenced three times and not once does it work), and despite a reliable cast of comedy veterans like Michael Peña and Ken Jeong, nothing here feels authentic – the whole film reads as it’s trying to talk down to its target audience rather than feel like something that’s naturally aimed at a younger generation – bizarrely, there’s jokes aimed at adults in here: I wasn’t expecting a Silence of the Lambs reference but this is very much not the place for it. Nothing works; the soundtrack is a truly bizarre collection of music choices, and the way the film changes direction every act really doesn’t help it establish any kind of consistency that it needed.

The film has a lot of the usual Tom and Jerry tropes – and it does them at least well, and whilst that doesn't make it wholly bad as a result making it an improvement over last week’s slate of UK releases that weren’t called Judas and the Black Messiah just by existing, it’s very workmanlike and as a result it just comes across as tepid and uninspired, trying to strike the fine line of being enjoyable for both children and their parents but failing to grab eithers’ attention for long.

Tom and Jerry is available to rent on PVOD now in the UK and is available to stream on HBO Max in the US.

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