Tom and Jerry is one of those timeless properties where a creative team only need to get a few things right to be successful. The protagonists have to be silent. That needs to be some solid slapstick set pieces that homage the character’s roots. You’d think that in 2020 these would be easier to pull off than ever. Yet director Tim Story’s 2021 Modernization attempt has come in for real kicking since it debuted in the US. Some of this is justified.
The film is mostly a very dull affair. It does not utilise its central characters effectively. It’s filled with bizarre creative decisions. That said there’s no denying the filmmakers here had some of the correct ideas. These were just euthanized when implemented by several bad creative instincts. This is emphasised in the character animation on the lead duo. The animators have gone for a 3D aesthetic that is distinctly stylised to look like 2D. This style can be pulled off effectively. Just look at the stunning animation in the recent Mitchell’s VS The Machines. Here it looks like paper cut-outs interacting with the live-action environments. Not in a way that’s interesting or makes viewers engage with the narrative. It just creates a bizarre visual dichotomy but the film never recovers from it. There’s some attempt utilising classic slapstick. The problem is but none of these set pieces has any momentum and gets regularly interrupted by the unnecessary human plot. No audience member of any age Should go in expecting the dynamic duo but instead get Chloe Grace Moretz and Michael Pena running around a hotel with Tom and Jerry interludes The protagonist are entirely silent with the filmmakers using a number of the classic screams and sound effects fans will be familiar with. That said other animated characters talk with several celebrity and musician voices rolling up for a couple of lines.
Then there are the musical interludes. The films raping pigeons has already gone down in infamy in some circles. It’s a painfully embarrassing attempt at coming across as “hip” and “cool” with the kids. It honestly did not bother this viewer too much. Peter Rabbit (2017) raping pigeons presenting a PG-rated version of Fort Mineors Remember The Name is far worse. The much more bizarre moment comes during a musical sequence with Toms singing voice provided by T Pain. This is complete with Pains standard-issue level of autotune. It’s such a strange and unexpected choice. This author is embedding the clip here and letting the sequence speak for itself. This immediately made this viewer imagine an R rated version of this concept with Tom doing the hook to The Lonely Island I’m On A Boat.
Tom and Jerry 2021 is mostly as bad as you’ve heard. That said it’s far too interesting with its systematic failures, to be entirely written off as an embarrassment. Every seemingly correct decision is cancelled out when the filmmaker’s implement it in the worst way possible. Does this mean the film harbours a morbid curiosity angle? Sort of. That said the 93-minute experience is mostly just staggeringly dull. It might keep Young children or die-hard fans briefly entertained but has no real audience beyond that.