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  Tom & Jerry: The Movie 80 years and they're still at it
Year: 2021
Director: Tim Story
Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Colin Jost, Jordan Bolger, Rob Delaney, Patsy Ferran, Pallavi Sharda, Somi De Souza, Ajay Chabra, Patrick Poletti, Janis Ahem, Ken Jeong, Camilla Arfwedson, Joe Bone, Edward Judge, William Hanna
Genre: Comedy, AnimatedBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Down on her luck and desperate Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) fast-talks her way into a managerial position at the Royal Gates Hotel, just as staff prepare for the wedding event of the year with celebrity couple Preeta (Pallavi Sharda) and Ben (Colin Jost). Already suspicious of Kayla’s phony resumé, hotel concierge Terence (Michael Peña) is further infuriated when Preeta takes a shine to the resourceful young woman and appoints her event planner. However, right as Kalya takes charge of an event that could change her life cartoon cat and mouse Tom and Jerry come crashing into the hotel and wreak all kinds of chaos.

Every Tom and Jerry movie struggles to reconcile the tried and tested cat chases mouse formula with the narrative demands of a feature film. While predictably mauled by critics Tom & Jerry: The Movie (not to be confused with the underrated 1992 animated feature confusingly also titled Tom & Jerry: The Movie) is not a wholly cynical, soulless marketing tool along the lines of the justly maligned Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021). It is instead a flawed but sincere and amiable attempt to transplant the raucous slapstick shenanigans beloved from the original cartoons made by William Hanna (whose yelps and howls from those originals are retained for the cat and mouse audio here!) and Joseph Barbera into a modern blockbuster format.

Things don't get off to the best start when we open on a flock of cartoon pigeons lip-synching to "Can I Kick It?" by A Tribe Called Quest (?!) Indeed the wildly incongruous hip-hop and R&B soundtrack does not gel with the film and is liable to date very quickly. Tim Story, director of Barbershop (2002), Ride Along (2014) and the original Fantastic Four films, is an odd fit for a cartoon romp crying out for Joe Dante's deft touch. Meanwhile the animation supervised by veteran Michael Eames has that quirky hybrid 2D/3D style that takes some getting used to but pulls off all the zany sight gags, slapstick violence and rampant silliness fans would expect. On top of that the plot, a bizarre hybrid of young adult malaise drama, wedding rom-com and cartoon hi-jinks, is strangely engaging. In particular Kayla's storyline, which comes across like a loose remake of obscure Michael J. Fox vehicle For Love or Money (1993), strikes a few resonant notes about the pressures facing young people trying to succeed in today's troubled job market. Isn’t that a strange thing to say about a Tom & Jerry movie? Led by a particularly stylish looking Chloë Moretz, of comedians and comic character actors (newcomer Patsy Ferran in particular seems like a talent to watch) gloss over the odd duff gag or cringe-inducing pop culture reference with earnest enthusiasm. Moretz, breaking her run of intense indie dramas and genre movies, delivers an effervescent turn as the cash-strapped yet irrepressible heroine. It is kind of fun watching her hustle her way through mishap upon mishap towards a top-flight job and, crucially, her interaction with Tom and Jerry is delightful. As for the cartoon cat and mouse their immortal charm remains intact (Tom now has musical aspirations while Jerry reveals an unexpected mercenary streak as a jewel thief (?!)) while Kevin Costello's script attempts to fashion their squabbling dynamic into a metaphor for the discordant nature of society at large. No really.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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