Typically found in short episodic adventures, Tom & Jerry have been given a makeover for the big screen, just in time for the school holidays. The playful pair have moved to NYC, Jerry is on the hunt for a new house and Tom is pursuing his dream to become a famous musician. But when Jerry makes himself at home in the city’s finest hotel, Tom is hired to dispose of the rodent problem before the wedding of the century is hosted at the ritzy establishment.
Now it’s clearly a kids film, not a family film. The story is fairly predictable and light on the ground with the laughs targeted at the 5-to-12 year olds, not the parents. As one of the older viewers in the cinema I was hoping for a few laughs that flew over the heads of the younger viewers but, predictably, the humor of the cat and mouse relationship lies in its slapstick brutality.
Violence has been an enduring staple of Tom & Jerry’s relationship. So why was I the only one laughing at the murderous intent in Tom’s eyes? I’ve long been a fan of this chaotic pair and their crazy adventures. I used to watch them on VHS at Grandma’s house. So even though I no longer fit the demographic for this movie, I was able to snigger at the classic cartoon cruelty.
Surprisingly, I seemed to be the only one. There was even a moment where I did laugh out loud, but I quickly halted my outburst as not a peep came from any of the children surrounding me. It seems the pressure to fit in with the cool kids never goes away.
Perhaps kids in 2021 no longer find cat-shaped holes in the concrete and baseball bats to the face funny. Perhaps they are more nuanced than that? The story itself is quite ‘modern’ – the “villain” is a middle manager with a god-complex and Chloë Grace Moretz is a loveable addition as the fiery concierge with a heart of gold.
Of course there’s a sweet message about loving each other despite your differences. Plus, it’s all accompanied by hip hop tracks from T-Pain and Flo Rida. But I must say I did enjoy just how much this new version paid homage to classic Tom & Jerry. I enjoyed the traditional gimmicks like bumps on the head that just pop up elsewhere if you push them down as well as the appearance of classic characters like Spike the Bulldog and the alley-cats.
Overall, Tom & Jerry was pretty good. The kids seemed to leave at the end in a good mood. Tom and Jerry were never designed for a full length film, and stretching their typically brief adventures out to 100 minutes does leave things feeling quite thin. But it made me laugh. Although I may need to look inward and ask if my proclivity towards cat and mouse violence is healthy. After all, none of the other kids laughed.
– Joshua Baty