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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, April 18, 2024

'Tom & Jerry' falls short of the original cartoon

Screen-Shot-2021-03-07-at-5.39.43-PM
A promotional poster for the movie "Tom & Jerry" (2021) is pictured.

Why do filmmakers feel the need to take successful entertainment and spin it into something ludicrous? While the answer to this is often simply that production companies are willing to exploit the original story for profit, it proves upsetting nevertheless.   

Unfortunately for the classic cartoon, Tim Story’s "Tom & Jerry" (2021) falls victim to just that, twisting the iconic tale into a jumbled confusion of live action actors and animated animals, turning the childhood television show into a poorly acted, nonsensical movie.  

In present-day New York City, Ben (Colin Jost) and Preeta (Pallavi Sharda) are set to get married at the fictional Royal Gate Hotel, when the famous, animated cat and mouse duo threatens to ruin the event. Jerry, the mouse, has moved into the hotel, so Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), a new employee, hires Tom, the cat, to exterminate him. As Jerry remains on the loose, Ben and Preeta’s relationship slowly unravels and another employee, Terence (Michael Peña), proves to be the antagonist.   

As the cat-and-mouse chase ensues, so does the cringey dialogue, disappointing acting and failed jokes. Although the animation, cinematography and directing are smooth, the storyline is enough to amount to the film’s overall downfall. Characters are wince-worthy, clad with exaggerated personalities and nonsensical actions, and attempts at humor are unsuccessful and cliche.  

Seeing as the objective of the plot is to catch Jerry and expel him from the hotel, it’s confusing that Kayla never simply snatches him and throws him out, despite all of the time Jerry spendsstanding in front of her, not evading any of her moves. As the plot is unnecessarily pushed along, even the jokes fall flat, with unoriginal lines as Terence mixes up social media names, calling them “Insta-book-face” and “Tiky-Tok,” a trope that has been done too many times before.  

It initially seems surprising that celebrities as famous as Jost would commit to such a production, but even his performance is a let down. He seems nearly incapable of producing actual expressions and emotions to the story around him, instead delivering dialogue in a plain and uninteresting way. Jost acts more like he is supplying dry jokes on "Saturday Night Live" and less like he is playing a man on the verge of losing the apparent love of his life. Perhaps it is the screenplay’s, and not Moretz’s, fault that her theatrics are exaggerated, but they are, nevertheless, not commendable. With an already unconvincing screenplay, the actors do nothing to help the believability of the movie. 

With so many worthy screenplays out there that Warner Bros. overlooked in order to finance this, it almost seems deserving that the movie, budgeted at $79 million, was financially unsuccessful, making only $57.3 million at the box office. Though a lot of this can surely be chalked up to the state of the world (and, actually, these numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic are surprisingly good), a cash-grab film hovering in a net loss region is the opposite of what its producers were hoping for.

Hopefully, the original "Tom & Jerry" will continue to stand the test of time, remaining untainted by this disconcerting attempt at a revival. The classic characters deserve to stay in their own fully animated world, where they are not surrounded with below-the-bar acting and pounded with songs like “Don’t You Know” (2021) and “Can I Kick It?” (1990) but are instead wrapped up in simple chases that prove satisfying to giggling kids as they enjoy an afternoon cartoon.  

Let this box-office flop be a message to future filmmakers that instead of deranging lovable classics into upsetting attempts at revivals, it is better to leave greatness alone.  

Summary "Tom and Jerry" proves disappointing, reviving a classic tale with disengaging acting and a letdown of a storyline.
2 Stars