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Blu-ray Review: Tom & Jerry

May 24, 2021

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

Following their animated Scooby-Doo movie Scoob! from last year, Warner Bros. continues trying to revive classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters with mixed results in Tom & Jerry, a hybrid of live action and animation that brings the constantly fighting cat and mouse back to the screen.

But, instead of upgrading them with 3D versions like in the live-action Yogi Bear movie from 2010, Tom & Jerry retains the hand-drawn designs of the original characters. In fact, all of the animals in the film are animated in this way and, while seeing these traditional cartoon characters in a live action world does take some getting used to, it at least gives the film a more unique look.

The cat Tom and the mouse Jerry have relocated to New York, where Tom has become a busker playing the piano in Central Park (one of the film’s more amusing gags), and Jerry is searching for a home. The longstanding rivalry between them is reignited when Tom’s keyboard gets destroyed during a fight. So, when Jerry takes up living in the walls of the fancy Royal Gate Hotel, Tom starts scheming to find a way in to catch his rodent adversary once and for all.

The film’s main human character is a street-savvy young woman named Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), who cons her way into getting a job at the hotel through a stolen resume. She ends up working alongside event manager Terence (Michael Peña) to help plan the high profile wedding of celebrity couple Preeta (Pallavi Sharda) and Ben (Colin Jost). But, when Jerry is spotted in the kitchen by the chef (Ken Jeong), Kayla hires Tom to take care of the mouse problem before it becomes public, and hijinks ensue.

If this plot sounds a bit overly convoluted for a film that should primarily be built around the cartoony cat and mouse fights between Tom and Jerry, that’s because it is. There are some decent slapstick battles between the two that do pay tribute to the spirit of the original cartoons, and the sort of 2D-CG look of the characters is appealing in and of itself, even if it doesn’t always fully mesh with the live action world around them.

But the film’s human characters are bland and thinly written (it’s never really clear who Kayla is or where she came from, though she is fleshed out slightly more in the disc’s deleted scenes), and director Tim Story, working from a screenplay by Kevin Costello, too often makes the crucial mistake of letting them take the focus away from the title stars themselves. The film also feels bloated at an overlong 101 minutes, when a tighter running time and a less human-focused story would have let the cartoon elements pop more.

The film is so innocuous and inoffensive that it’s hard to really get worked up over it either way. It does provide some mild entertainment value while it’s on, which is to say that it passes the time well enough, especially for less discerning younger audience members, delivering some mildly amusing moments of cartoon action. But it’s not particularly exciting or inspired, either, and the live action stuff is too generic to really leave an impact.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray comes with a selection of bonus features, including deleted scenes and several featurettes. A code for a digital copy is also included in the package.

• Deleted Scenes (13 minutes, 34 seconds): A collection of scenes that were cut for length, though a few of them do help develop Kayla’s character a little more.

Home Destroyed (2 minutes, 1 second)

Job Hopper Task in Park (2 minutes, 13 seconds)

Tom Hit by a Truck (24 seconds)

Kayla’s at Sadie’s Apartment (2 minutes, 29 seconds)

Tom on Stilts (58 seconds)

Kayla Shown Hotel Room (1 minute, 58 seconds)

Tom Dream (1 minute, 11 seconds)

Terence in the Car on the Phone to London Hotel (1 minute, 14 seconds)

NY Tour/Tom and Jerry Street Portrait (37 seconds)

Jackie and Kayla at Cake (1 minute, 7 seconds)

Gag Reel (3 minutes, 1 second): A collection of outtakes from the set.

Bringing Tom & Jerry to Life (14 minutes, 11 seconds): This is the most comprehensive of the bonus features, taking us behind the scenes of the production of the film, which was shot in London standing in for New York, and showing how the 2D animated characters were put into this live action world, with the help puppets on set.

Tom & Jerry’s World (4 minutes, 17 seconds): A jokey piece that finds the cast and crew discussing what it was like working with the two leads.

The Feud: #TeamTom vs. #TeamJerry (4 minutes, 15 seconds): The cast and crew pick sides on which of the two title characters they more closely align with.

Jerry’s “A House for a Mouse” (3 minutes, 58 seconds): A reality show-style piece showcasing Jerry’s hole in the wall home.

The Tom & Jerry Guide to New York City Wildlife (4 minutes, 52 seconds): Narrated like a nature documentary, this short featurette shares facts about the cartoon animals.

Inside the Wedding of Ben and Preeta (5 minutes, 24 seconds): This E!-style pieces focuses on the wedding of these two characters.

A Scene Comes to Life: Scene #1 – Ben and Preeta’s Wedding (5 minutes, 11 seconds): A closer look at what went into filming the lavish Indian wedding sequence seen in the film.

A Scene Comes to Life: Scene #2 – Animal Lock-Up (3 minutes, 54 seconds): A closer look at a sequence in a prison-like animal shelter.

Tom & Jerry is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 101 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: May 18th, 2021

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