Lickboot: We’ve got to have…money!
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
The antics of Tom and Jerry are ones that have lasted all throughout the ages. This duo had such a unique and unrivaled style of slapstick that has remained timeless. Over 50 years after they debuted, movie starring the duo was released. A movie might seem like a difficult concept since each episode of Tom and Jerry was rather short and had nothing but slapstick and silent humor. The show however, in all its incarnations, managed to work well with these concepts and around the drawbacks they would form. This movie however not only does none of those things but completely betrays the heart of the Tom and Jerry cartoon in the process.
The story is that Tom and Jerry, after being left behind by Tom’s owners who are moving away, are left homeless with the old house having been demolished. They encounter a dog, named Pugsy and his flea Frankie who convince the two to be friends. They also encounter a little girl named Robyn and help rescue her from the wrath of her evil Aunt Figg and reunite her with her missing father.
Despite the fact that Tom’s owners are in no way concerned of his whereabouts throughout the movie, the first couple of minutes where Tom and Jerry roam the streets searching for food and shelter are done rather well with little to no dialogue among the two. There’s even a nice joke where the two get kicked out of a restaurant called Bill and Joe’s referencing the show’s creator William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. This conflict and its execution truly feel in the vein of the classic cartoon. However once the two meet up with Pugsy and Frankie it is pretty much discarded. They become friends after all that thus removing the heart of this duo. While the two hated each other and would cause each other relentless pain they had a common ground of the thrill of the chase. When the two meet up with Robyn, they find themselves taking backseat to their own movie as the movie focuses more on the human characters. In fact outside of the opening scene, shenanigans with Aunt Figg’s dog named Ferdinand, and the ending there is no slapstick whatsoever in this movie.
In regards to the animation it has some neat environments that would work in a Tom and Jerry setting and would be perfect for slapstick. Alas, as previously mentioned, there is no slapstick between Tom and Jerry in this movie. Perhaps the aspect that sticks most about it however is the animation on the human characters. They are given some rather bizarre and creepy designs, movements, and expressions but not in a way that feels intentional.
As for the characters, it’s best to get the elephant in the room out of the way: Tom and Jerry talk. While they had voices in the cartoon they were used very sparingly only being used to add a sense of silliness in a scenario. And they talk all throughout the movie. Pugsy and Frankie are pretty much cameos. The characters have some talented voice actors behind them such as Tony Jay, Henry Gibson, Richard Kind, and Dana Hill but even they can’t save this movie. None of the human characters have anything to do with Tom and Jerry thus giving no reason to care for them in context of a Tom and Jerry movie.
The musical numbers are also a low point of the movie. Like the human characters, they also feel out of place in a Tom and Jerry movie. It feels like they were put in merely to emulate Disney’s musical style.
Tom and Jerry: The movie took a great cartoon with nothing of what made it great. For a legendary duo that got the ultimate chance to star on the big screen, it’s upsetting how little focus there is on the two and when there is, they don’t feel like the characters we know and love. When you consider that they had Joseph Barbera as a creative consultant and the fact that it was a theatrical release you would expect better. But alas there are numerous straight-to-video movies that proved to embody these characters a lot better.