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Bland, scattershot 'Tom & Jerry: The Movie' hits with an anvil-like thud

Phil on Film
"Tom & Jerry: The Movie" debuted Feb. 26 in theaters and on HBO Max.
Posted at 4:16 PM, Feb 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-28 10:12:48-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — If ever a "Tom & Jerry" movie reboot would work, it would be as a blend of animation and live action. The formula worked for the likes of "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks."

"Tom & Jerry: The Movie," which dropped on HBO Max and theaters Feb. 26, though, proves that formula doesn't guarantee success. The movie works as well as one of Tom's ill-advised attempts to throttle his eternal nemesis.

Director Tim Story squanders a game cast, which includes Chloe Grace Moretz, Michael Pena, Rob Delaney, Ken Jeong, Colin Jost and Pallavi Sharda. The animation and live-action visuals look sharp, and there is enough promise in the first act to make it a genuine disappointment once the plot starts to go limp.

Things begin intriguingly enough, with a spirited -- if nonsensical -- animation avian rendition of A Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick it?" Then we cede into a well-executed introduction in which Tom and Jerry bungle an attempt at street performance busking, leading to an outburst of the duo's typical slapstick antics.

Jarringly, the animated protagonists are left in the dust -- not for the last time -- as we follow the story of a con artist played by Moretz, who talks her way into a gig as an an events assistant at a ritzy hotel, the venue for an approaching A-list wedding. Any guess as to which two guests will decide to crash the festivities?

The story plods along from the dull Moretz plotline to the amusing but stretched-way-too-thin cat-and-mouse antics. What might have been an animated short is stretched and warped beyond all recognition to feature length, and it's often agonizing to sit it out until the end.

"Tom & Jerry: The Movie" proves beyond any reasonable argument that the duo is meant for short-form entertainment. Their silence speaks volumes, echoing the lack of laughter in the theaters or in front of HBO Max screens.

The answer is no, Tom and Jerry, you can't kick it.

RATING: 1.5 stars out of 4.
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