'Tom and Jerry' is a film aimed at no one.
- 😾Classic Tom and Jerry hijinks are present.
- 😾The animation looks abysmal on top of the live-action film.
- 😾Devoid of heart or humor.
- 😾Who decided Michael Peña should be the straightman here?
This post contains spoilers for Tom and Jerry.
The premise for HBO Max's Tom and Jerry is pretty simple. Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) needs a job, and fights to keep it while dealing with the classic cat and mouse hijinks of Tom the Cat and Jerry A. Mouse (both billed as themselves in the credits). After their first chase loses Kayla her courier job, she heads back to her traditional breakfast joint: an upscale New York hotel that she's been pretending to be a guest at whenever she needs a free meal. While there, she learns that there's a temporary position open to help facilitate the wedding of New York's favorite It Couple, Preeta and Ben (played by Pallavi Sharda and Colin Jost respectively).
After Linda Perrybottom (Camilla Arfwedson) — the woman applying for the position — is rude to her, Kayla pretends to be a member of the staff putting Linda through a test and steals her resume, subsequently landing her job. And she would have gotten away with it too, if not for that pesky cat and mouse!
If there's one thing that Tom and Jerry does right, it's nailing the classic rivalry between its titular cat and mouse. All of the traditional shenanigans are present as we trudge through the movie's hour and forty runtime, they're just overlaid on top of a story that they don't belong in. And "overlaid" is used very literally here. The animated characters are slapped on top of the live-action film, failing in all the ways that Who Framed Roger Rabbit managed to succeed. There's such a thing as spicing up your animation too much, and the highlights used on all of the animated creatures shift the multi-media flick from quirk to eye-sore.
Children's films are often inherently nonsensical, so there's nothing wrong with the oddities of the plot. There is, however, a lot of problems with the underlying messages of the story. Tom and Jerry somehow manages to make itself Micro Aggressions: The Movie. Kids movies are allowed to just be kids movies, but they're the exact kind of stories that you don't want perpetuating yikes-worthy narratives.
When the climax of conflict arrives, Kayla insists "I just wanted to prove to all of you that I deserve this." But she didn't deserve the job? The underlying narrative here literally progresses as follows: white girl steals job from immigrant, gets a person of color fired, blames a cat and mouse for being her entitled behavior, and convinces the Indian woman she's befriended that she really does love the mediocre white boy who's ignoring all of her needs. Things will ultimately work out for Linda Perrybottom and Terence (the criminally wasted Michael Peña), but at no point do we reconcile with the fact that Kayla kinda sucks and her biggest struggle is that she stumbled into the wrong furry rivalry.
Tom and Jerry is a classic "just because you can, doesn't mean you should." There's just nothing of value here for any demographic. Kids who are still entertained by Tom and Jerry (are kids still entertained by Tom and Jerry?) would have more fun with watching reruns that ditch the troublesome human narrative. Same goes for their parents who are hoping for a little bit of nostalgia.
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