The 2021 Tom and Jerry film was released day and date in theaters in the US and on HBO Max. Even if you are an HBO Max subscriber it is not worth your time. This film is bad, so bad that it was a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes on release day. The film has been bouncing around production for years and finally got enough of a greenlight a few years ago to get completed.
Tim Story is responsible for the direction of the film. He has given the world films such as Barbershop, but also Taxi with Queen Latifa and Jimmy Fallon, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. How did this guy get to direct a 50-million-dollar film? Are there no other directors that deserve a chance with a big studio?
Tom and Jerry is a live-action film where all the animals are cartoons. Tom, the cat, and Jerry, the mouse, are joined by cartoon dogs, cartoon elephants, cartoon dead fish in a fish market, and a variety of other cartoon animals. It is a strange world where cats can be understood to be blind and play the piano. The film takes place in New York City, but it could be any major city with a classic luxurious hotel.
The live-action cast does their best with what they are given. Chloë Grace Moretz, of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, is the lead. She is a fake-it-till-you-make-it millennial who demonstrates that con artists are more than their resumes. Michael Pena and Rob Delaney are featured alongside Colin Jost. I would love to hear how Scarllet Johansson feels about her husband’s significant role big-screen debut.
The movie bounces between the story of Moretz and Pena planning a wedding to Tom’s fruitless pursuit of Jerry. Like the classic cartoons, there are five-minute segments of Tom and Jerry that can get some laughs with slapstick humor. These brief funny moments are not enough to carry 101 minutes of the film, including yet another pointless after-credits scene. The live-action story never generates enough heart and makes a lot of leaps in the wedding storyline with Jost’s character.
I persevered, there is no other word, through this film so you do not have to. Amidst a pandemic, this film is not going to earn back what it cost to make. In an alternate timeline with no pandemic, this film still would struggle to make back its initial investment. This is an ill-conceived story that follows too many paths. I did like seeing how seamless hand-drawn type animation could be put over the live-action film. The Lebron James Space Jam could be done well technically and if there were ever a Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel it could also rely on the technical advancements of this film.