Tom & Jerry
by Toby Woollaston
Verdict: For fans of slapstick only.
Those looking for a version of Tom & Jerry with substance might be a bit disappointed— it’s a lightweight flick that aims low. A cat and mouse slugging it out for almost two hours does wear a bit thin and this rendition, a glossy modern adaptation of the Hanna and Barbara original, disappointingly drapes a wafer-thin plot over the top of its action. The result is an Acme factory brimming with crash-bang-wallop but little else.
The opening sequence tracks an animated posse of hip-hopping pigeons down to a swanky New York hotel where most of the action takes place. Through dubious means Kayla (Chloë Grace-Moretz) has landed a gig as the hotel’s event manager. Meanwhile the squabbling Tom and Jerry are looking for a place to stay and the hotel seems like the perfect option. Digs and gigs collide when a high-profile wedding is booked at the same hotel and, unsurprisingly, chaos ensues. The plot, unashamedly used as a vehicle to transport the action from one location to the next, episodically rolls past like a conveyor belt as Grace-Moretz (Shadow in the Cloud) and Michael Peña (Ant-Man) wade their way through an awkwardly paced screenplay.
But hey, ultimately you’re at this film to see Tom and Jez duke it out with limb-stretching, mallet-toting, vengeful malice—and in these action sequences there is plenty to like. The animation style, which blends traditional animation with real-life action (à la Who Framed Roger Rabbit), brings heft to their tomfoolery and is something my seven-year-old cheezels’n’coke movie snacking self would’ve loved. Alas, I am not that boy anymore and despite Tom & Jerry’s old school roots, it doesn’t span the generational gap in the same way that better films (such as Paddington) do.
Sure, the slapstick antics will undoubtedly make for perfect school holiday fodder, but it commits the sin of dumbing things down way too much for its younger audience—they really are smarter than this film thinks they are. However, there is no denying that many will giggle their way through much of it… and I suppose that can’t be a bad thing.
See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.