Tom and Jerry

After the heavy and emotional Pieces of a Woman, I decided it was time for some lighter fair. It just so happened that Warner Bros. released Tom and Jerry yesterday on HBO Max. I figured there couldn’t be a more to ally opposite movie out there, so I gave it a shot. Honestly it’s a bit of a mixed bag for me.

I grew up loving Tom and Jerry. They were some of my favorites on Saturday mornings, and this movie is firmly aimed at kids. The pitch and pace of this movie is one hundred percent for the under 10 set. The characters are pretty one note. The acting is heightened to a cartoonish level. The storyline is incredibly simplistic and the emotions are all at 11. No nuance or subtext here.

I wish I could say that the movie follows Tom the Cat and Jerry mouse as they engage in their constant battles. Unfortunately the movie decides to sideline them in favor of a slew generic hotel employees preparing for a celebrity wedding. The movie should be called The Royal Gate Hotel (featuring an appearance by Tom and Jerry)

Tom and Jerry exist kind of on the periphery of the hotel drama taking place. Occasionally the movie launches into a classic Tom and Jerry style sequence of madcap slapstick. These moments are pretty fun. I didn’t laugh out loud, but they made me smile. And I felt that warm nostalgia for my childhood that can be so intoxicating.

What really caught me was the animation. This movie is a combination of live action and animation. All the animals in the movie are animated in a way that mimics the classic 2D hand drawn style of the original cartoons. The interaction between the animated and the real is a lot of fun to see. They take an almost Roger Rabbit approach to the way the animated characters interact with real objects and real people. It’s technically brilliant and quite fun to see.

All of these criticisms are kind of moot in the face of the big question: will kids like it? I kept asking myself “would I have liked this as a kid?” I tried to get into the mindset of 8 year old me. As I looked at the movie through his eyes, I enjoyed the Tom and Jerry bits, and was disinterested in the human bits. I think that’s the same reaction a lot of kids will have to this movie.

I think Tom and Jerry works so well is because it’s such a heightened elemental conflict. Tom wants to eat Jerry. Jerry wants to live. Tom wants to kick Jerry out. Jerry wants to stay. That is just so much more compelling than a hotel event planner trying to preparing a wedding for a celebrity who is in disagreement with her fiancé about the scope of their wedding. I’d rather watch a cat try to smash a mouse than a generic 20 something try to plan the wedding of two spoiled billionaires. And 8 year old me agrees.

All in all it’s not great. If you have little kids they might get enjoy some of it. If you love Tom and Jerry, you might get a nostalgic twinge during it. If you’ve just watched an emotionally devastating independent film it might the perfect way to recalibrate your broken heart.

It’s not really my cup of tea. C

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