Tom & Jerry review: Should you stream the HBO Max reboot of the classic characters?

Tom and Jerry bumping fists in their own movie
Tom and Jerry bumping fists in their own movie. Pic credit: Warner Brothers

The classic duo from Hanna-Barbara is making a return to both theaters and HBO Max this week with a cartoon and live-action hybrid.

This time director Tim Story (Fantastic Four, Barbershop) takes a crack at the animated legends and brings along an impressive cast to reenergize the material. Stars such as Chloe Grace Moretz, Michael Pena, Colin Jost, and many more.

With that kind of talent, what can go wrong, right?

Is Tom & Jerry a worthy reboot to the beloved animated cat and mouse? Here is our full review of Tom & Jerry and whether it’s worth a stream on HBOMax.

Tom & Jerry review

The film stars Moretz as Kayla– a troubled youth who cons her way into getting a job at a famous hotel. The character has no clear back story, just a young woman who happens to be solid at conning people into getting her way.

Once she acquires the position after pretending to be someone else on paper, she is made an employee of the hotel where a new rodent has made his home. That rodent is Jerome Mouse. As she embarks to remove Jerry from the building, she uses Tom who has been busy himself trying to chase Jerry throughout the location. Also, Michael Pena as Terrence, Kayla’s boss, suspects Kayla is not who she claims to be.

The movie has scenes that one would expect from a Tom & Jerry movie. Jerry aggravates Tom and vice versa. They both make each other’s lives a nightmare with slapstick violence in the vein of The Three Stooges.

Michael Pena with Tom in Tom & Jerry.
Michael Pena with Tom in Tom & Jerry. Pic credit: Warner Brothers

When the film offers attempts at these throwback moments it does make one smile. And it’s even said Tim Story utilized old sounds and recordings from the old cartoons to make it feel like the classic shorts.

The problem with Tom & Jerry is those moments are far and few between. What most audiences will want to see is the amazing duo get into hijinks and have some human elements sprinkled throughout.

What they will end up watching is the complete opposite.

Instead, Tim Story chooses to have more scenes with human characters that are ridiculously one-dimensional, no interesting reason for being there, and feel like filler until the next time we encounter the cartoon characters.

Even worse, for such great talent involved in the movie, everyone seems to be going through the motions the entire film. This includes Moretz who typically is a solid actress in every role she plays. Michael Pena disappoints as well and usually, that actor is great in everything, good and bad. But the story and script give him very little to work with.

Similar to the Chipmunk franchise, some of the talent involved seems to be on-board for the paycheck.

Which is fine, celebrities need to make money too. No shame on cashing on a kid’s franchise.

Chloe Grace Moretz as Kayla talking to Tom in Tom & Jerry
Chloe Grace Moretz as Kayla talking to Tom in Tom & Jerry. Pic credit: Warner Brothers

But with films like last year’s Sonic the Hedgehog, that film proved a silly carefree kids film can be executed and all the talent involved can pretend to care.

And for a movie that uses all the best aspects of Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s mixture of animation and live-action, it doesn’t try at all with the human side of things.

That said, for parents that want to distract their children for 100 minutes, this movie is completely harmless. There are way worse films to expose kids to– especially in the kid’s genre.

And most children around the age of Kindergarten and Pre-K are not going to know the difference between Sonic the Hedgehog and Tom & Jerry.

But it’s okay to engage them on an intellectual level. Not all kids above that demographic have to be spoonfed a movie that feels mechanical. Studios do not have to treat them like they are tiny ATM machines.

And anyone who says there wasn’t some form of brains behind Tom & Jerry is out of their minds. The old show knew how to execute slapstick humor and violence in clever ways. And the people behind the cartoon knew the golden rule of comedy is not being afraid to look foolish. And almost every one of the episodes put those characters through hell to put a smile on a kid’s face.

So as a fan, this was a disappointment. But if it makes children want to revisit the classics, who can it hurt?

Overall Thoughts

Tom & Jerry will be a disappointment for adults who grew up on the famous animated duo. For a film that has their names, it tends to focus on the uninteresting human characters rather than trying to do something fun with Tom and Jerry’s neverending battle. However, the few moments it does will give viewers a smile.

But for parents who want to distract children briefly, there are films that are far less worthwhile out there to expose them to. And if it ends up being a gateway to the classics, then by all means.

For readers who enjoyed our Tom & Jerry review, be sure and check out our other reviews for Pixar’s Soul and The Witches.

Tom & Jerry is now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.

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