I hated Tom and Jerry when I was a kid—and it turns out that I hate them equally as a grown-up-type person thing. It’s just a cat being mercifully tortured by a mouse—a one joke slog-a-thon.
Granted, The Itchy and Scratchy Show, the spoof that has long appeared on The Simpsons, is classic, and wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Tom and Jerry, so I guess I have to be a little grateful to the duo.
On second thought, nope. Tom and Jerry can go to hell.
Director Tim Story tries to bring some life to a long-dead franchise by pulling a Roger Rabbit and mixing traditional animation with live action. Tom the Cat and Jerry the Mouse, along with all other non-human animals, are animated, with little effort to truly integrate them into the real world. As a result, this movie has a dull visual palette to go with its crap script.
The original cartoon shorts never had significant plots, and this cinematic vehicle has a thin one that works as nothing but an excuse to see Tom falling out of buildings and crashing into things.
A young events-planner wannabe (Chloë Grace Moretz) goes to a fancy Manhattan hotel looking for a job, fakes her résumé (making her instantly unlikable) and gets a gig planning the Wedding of the Year. Jerry the mouse moves into the hotel, with Tom following him there … so there’s your plot. The planner needs to catch the mouse and uses the cat in her trapping scheme.
Now that the thin story is established, let’s break things over Tom’s head.
This is a film that manages to make Michael Peña unfunny. It’s a movie looking for comedic-acting chops from Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost, who screwed up royally by signing on for this one. He plays the guy getting married, and he looks like he is hating life the entire time. Michael Che should skewer him on Weekend Update for this one.
Rest assured that the wedding will include elephants so we can get that classic joke about elephants being afraid of mice. You can also go to bed tonight safe in the knowledge that at some point, Jerry is going to leave a wise-ass note to somebody in a mouse trap. You know, something like “Haha … I’m a mouse and I figured out this is a trap, and I took your cheese anyway. Fuck you!”—minus the swear words, of course. This is a PG movie for kids, one in which you can see Ken Jeong clearly saying the word “asshole,” even though it’s dubbed over. Noticing that was the funniest part of the movie for me. Everything else was about as funny as a wise-ass note left by a rodent in a mouse trap.
Tom and Jerry is streaming on HBO Max through March 28. It is now playing at the Mary Pickford Drive-In Experience (68651 Grove St., Cathedral City).