‘Tom & Jerry’ assessment: Cat and mouse are underutilized

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If there’s one thing that can be said about Tom & Jerry, it’s that your beloved cat and mouse spend most of their time in the movie doing what they do best: a hyper-destructive cat and mouse -Mouse game to play. But that’s really not enough to justify this nostalgic bait.

To be fair, having non-verbal characters best known for making animated shorts and carrying a 101-minute film is a tough one. Instead, Warner Bros. Pictures’ live action / animation hybrid now available in theaters and on HBO Max sees classic comic book rivals William Hanna and Joseph Barbera in modern New York for an adventure that is primarily is about people played by Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Rob Delaney, Colin Jost and Pallavi Sharda.

Directed by Tim Story and based on a script by Kevin Costello, Tom & Jerry is set in a version of the world in which all animals – from pets to potential ingredients to exhibits in a museum – are cartoons. That they are presented in a more classic 2-D animated look instead of the 3DCG approach of other newer live action / animation hybrids adds to its charm.

The film opens with Tom and Jerry trying to make new starts in town. The couple quickly cross paths in a park when Jerry tries to ruin Tom’s attempt at making quick money as a street performer and forge their antagonistic relationship. The resulting high jinks also lead to the innocent viewer Kayla (Moretz) losing her job and building up the main plot of the person.

Most of the subsequent action takes place in a swanky hotel where Kayla is on her way to be hired for a job she is not entirely qualified for as she is anticipating the upcoming social media wedding. Married couple Preeta (Sharda) dealing with staff) and Ben (Jost). Although Kayla charms the manager (Delaney) to get the position, the event manager Terence (Peña) doesn’t like her from the start.

Human action just doesn’t deliver. It’s hard to figure out which character to go for as the film doesn’t give the audience enough to really understand their motivations. It is thanks to the actors that they are not all completely improbable. Still, Delaney and Patsy Ferran, who play the quirky bellhop Joy, are among the highlights.

Tom and Jerry, all interested in making the fancy hotel their home, sadly become a sideline to Kayla’s quest to prove she can get the job done. The moments when neither is particularly sluggish and “Tom & Jerry” doesn’t quite take up its message about the difficulty of being a young adult entering the job market in the current gig economy.

The physical slapstick comedy makes for some laughs and, along with the toilet humor “Tom & Jerry”, is likely to appeal to some members of the family audience.

However, if you are in the mood for this type of comic strip violence, it would be better to track down the classic shorts or episodes from Tom and Jerry’s previous TV shows.

‘Tom Jerry’

Rated: PG, for cartoon violence, rude humor, and short language

Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Play: Paramount Drive-In, Paramount; Regency the Plant Drive-in, Van Nuys; Mission Tiki Drive-In, Montclair; generally release when theaters are open; also on HBO max