Tom and Jerry: Does the Nostalgia Hold Up?

Photo by momokacma, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Photo by “momokacma”, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

by Nicholas Ebadat, Staff Writer

Tom and Jerry are icons that have graced the childhoods of five generations since 1940. 

From the animated shorts, they introduced children to a simplified version of David and Goliath. It demonstrated that being small does not equal being vulnerable while also being a source for brainless entertainment. 

However, as animation technology grew to new heights with time, creators established a unique voice and personality for the iconic characters in animated feature films that captured new generations’ hearts. After 80 years, the classic duo finally got the chance to chase each other across the big screen in live-action, only to be stripped from their voice and outshined by the supporting cast.

The rebooted movie, “Tom and Jerry,” directed by Tim Story, was released in theaters and HBO Max on Feb. 26.  It is about Katie, a young woman in New York City played by Chloë Grace-Moretz, who lies about her qualifications to be a hotel event planner and enlists Tom and Jerry’s help to save a high-class wedding from being ruined. 

As it is a children’s film, the main character is hardly likable nor the best role model because she stole a lady’s resumé and used it to get the job the lady wanted to apply for. Additionally, she is met with bitterness from an annoying event manager too insecure about losing his job, played by Micheal Peña. 

The film’s beginning is riddled with references to the classic show like Tom in his “cool cat” sunglasses or Jerry’s comfortable hole-in-the-wall living space. Tom creates his infamous mouse-catching contraptions, and Jerry predictably escapes them. Some characters from the tv show and movies also make an appearance like the alley cat gang, Spike the dog, and Tom’s love interest, Toots the white cat. 

The movie also includes references to other Warner Bros. properties like Batman and Looney Tunes by Tom’s wingsuit silhouette covering the moon like a bat and receiving a package from the artillery company, ACME. 

As the movie is quick to include nostalgia pieces from the icons, it struggles to produce anything new about the characters. It simplifies the heart of their legacy to a forgettable feud between a cat and a mouse.

The movie is filled with cartoon animals that sing, talk, and argue that it seems almost unfair that Tom and Jerry are two of the only voices we do not get to hear. It spends too much time on what the characters were at the beginning of their legacy and not enough time exploring what made them special for all their fans’ childhoods. 

Whereas the movie reminds the audience of all the hijinks that Tom and Jerry are capable of, the entertainment value turns stale too quickly to deserve a film in the first place. Much of the movie relies on its human characters who are nonsensical and feel to the audience as though they are only there to drive the plot. 

It has a strong cast of noteworthy actors and recognizable comedians but did not have the writing necessary to hit the sweet spot between an interesting human-driven story and a proper homage to Tom and Jerry’s classic rivalry.

Overall the film deserves a 3/10 because of its lack of narrative, has unlikeable supporting characters, and desecrates a beloved children’s cartoon.