‘Tom and Jerry’ (2021) fails to live up to the nostalgia

Devon Martinez

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2 out of 5 stars 

Nostalgia is powerful, and “Tom and Jerry” (2021) is proof.  

     How much is nostalgia worth? This is a tough question, because how can you place a dollar amount on something that is merely a feeling? 

     Well, we know it’s at least $79 million: the same price it cost to make the new “Tom and Jerry.” Nostalgia was all I could think about while watching the new film because there was no other real purpose for this film’s existence.  

     The legendary rivalry between Tom and Jerry takes place in New York City’s finest hotel. Tom Cat moves to the city with the dream of becoming a pianist at the same time Jerry Mouse moves in as well.  

     The movie begins with Tom playing in Central Park to the enjoyment of several park-goers until Jerry takes all the attention away by dancing to the music. This leads to a brawl between the two. The fight ends with Tom knocking Kayla Foster (Chloë Grace Moretz) off her bike.  

     Foster is a young woman doing odd jobs. She ends up tricking a woman to give up her resume, and she uses it as her own while looking for a position at the Royal Gate Hotel. This helps her get an assistant job to the event manager Terence Mendoza (Michael Peña). They are tasked with setting up a high-profile wedding.  

     But there’s one problem: Jerry moves into the hotel, and he is causing disruption. The solution: Foster hires Tom to kill the mouse before anyone finds out so that the event is not ruined. What follows is the classic episodic, slapstick comedy of Tom attempting to capture Jerry.  

     Most of these scenes are fun to watch. I mean who does not like to watch a mouse outsmart a cat? But what may have worked for a 20-minute episode gets old real-quick with a run time of over 100 minutes. 

     And as a fan of “Tom and Jerry,” this was not enough to keep me engaged or put on the old nostalgic sunglasses that are worn at least twice a year, as Hollywood dumps out remakes and sequels of old stories we loved as children.  

     The film did not give us any reason to like the main characters — the ones played by humans. And as for Tom and Jerry, they fell by the side and were limited and never allowed to showcase their antagonistic, yet sometimes friendly, relationship.  

Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Studios.

     However, the film was shot beautifully. 

     The studio was smart to use the classic animation style against the live action actors and setting. It provided the familiarity that was needed to ensure the film catered to those nostalgic viewers like me. 

     Any animation mixed with live action needs to be visually pretty or else people will be disengaged automatically.  

     In today’s world, CGI changes sometimes determine people’s choice to watch a film, sometimes leaving the story by the wayside. “Tom and Jerry” is more proof of that. 

     Luckily, I was able to watch it on HBO Max and not visit a theater for an overpriced ticket and a tub of popcorn. All my criticism aside, I still encourage people to watch it to either be entertained or annoyed or both.  

     That said, it deserves a low rating. Audiences deserve more effort, and this film is low on the effort front. The bare minimum would have been giving us a reason to care, outside of nostalgia, but there is nothing more it delivers on. 

Graphic created by Nicholaas Hallisey.