Trailer Talk: Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry is an upcoming animated/live-action hybrid film based on the classic cartoon by the same name. The cartoon, which originated in the 1940s, focused on comical fights between two adversaries: a house cat named Tom and a mouse named Jerry. Naturally, being a cat and mouse, they’d chase and fight each other. It wasn’t exactly plot-heavy, but it was hilarious and well-animated slapstick comedy. The animation provided an outlet for slapstick that could never be done by the likes of The Three Stooges, so things got pretty crazy and creative. Tom and Jerry have had a long lifespan in entertainment, starring in multiple TV series, shorts, movies, and even video games. It’s no surprise they are making their way back to the big screen next year. Let’s take a look at the first trailer for the upcoming Tom and Jerry film to pull apart any and all details we can find.

Immediately, you can tell the animation is breathtaking. It’s comforting knowing that the filmmakers decided to go with 2-D animation instead of CGI. CGI isn’t inherently bad, but the hand-drawn 2-D style matches what Tom and Jerry were meant to be. It seems they are staying true to their classic roots. Them being animated in a live-action environment doesn’t appear to be distracting either. It feels reminiscent of movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

At the start of the trailer, we see Jerry trick Tom into getting hit by a bus. It’s a good start showing they are keeping the slapstick. It’s a relief, especially since some of the straight-to-DVD films forget that aspect of Tom and Jerry. Some of those films have Tom and Jerry shown as friends rather than as adversaries, which just feels wrong in so many ways. It seems there’s no need for us to worry about them being friends here. 

The choice of music indicates this will take place in modern day. This could help the younger audiences or newcomers to Tom and Jerry relate to what they’re watching. Modern technology and social situations can potentially be used for some good, original laughs with these two characters. Taking place in modern day isn’t an issue as long as cell phones and social media aren’t shoved in our faces too much like some other movie reboots have suffered from.

The establishing shots show us the film is set in New York City. Funny enough, it also takes place in the same hotel used in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. This hotel will never stop experiencing ridiculous hijinx.

The singing pigeons and the elephants in the beginning of the trailer indicate that Tom and Jerry aren’t the only animated animals we’ll see. It’ll be a clever detail if literally all of the animals in the film are animated, as it will allow Tom and Jerry to blend in more, but it’ll be easy to slip up and have a real bird or dog show up in the background.

We’re introduced to the plot of the film, where Chloe Grace Moretz’s character becomes employed by the hotel and volunteers to help take care of their mouse infestation (being Jerry hanging out and taking food from the kitchen). She figures the cheapest and most efficient option to get rid of a mouse is to bring in a cat (Tom). This is a great setup for a simple plot. A Tom and Jerry movie doesn’t need some intricate story, they just need to fight, and here’s a fun reason for them to be doing so. 

Even though they are animated, they appear to blend in well with the live action characters. The actors, like Moretz, are certainly pulling off a difficult feat.

We see several more instances of the slapstick that will be used during the movie, like Jerry moving the mouse hole so Tom charges face first into the wall or Tom getting electrocuted by a bolt of lightning after also being electrocuted by a broken power line. They are definitely staying true to the level of action and cartoon violence that Tom and Jerry has always had. 

The words “All friends fight. These friends battle.” show across the screen. This is rather concerning, as Tom and Jerry aren’t meant to be buddies. They’re meant to always be in combat with each other. It’s good to know we’ll see them fighting for what looks to be most of the movie, but it is concerning knowing they might hold back or stop the battle for the sake of friendship. 

Warner Bros. clearly wanted to do some self-advertising with a Batman reference, and I don’t blame them. It’s a joke that younger audiences will get, and it’s a pretty funny reference that actually fits in with Tom and Jerry. We’ll likely be seeing some visual humor rather than just the slapstick, which could prove to be fun. 

Not once throughout the trailer did Tom or Jerry ever talk. This is a relief, as they never spoke in their series. There have been straight-to-DVD movies where they have spoken, and it doesn’t feel right. If writers want Tom and Jerry to talk, they should write for a different franchise. It furthers the comfort that the Tom and Jerry name is being well-taken care of here. 

Hopefully, the part of the story featuring Chloe Grace Moretz, Michael Pena, Ken Jeong, and other live action cast members doesn’t overshadow the main story featuring the titular characters. That’s something that can often happen with movies like this, especially those with big-name actors. Thankfully, based off the trailer, that doesn’t seem to be the case. That being said, will the audience even care about the humans’ story with all the cat and mouse shenanigans going on? Only time will tell. 

The trailer shows us a few different animated animals, but none appear to be other preexisting Tom and Jerry characters. The likes of Spike, Tyke, Tuffy, or Butch are nowhere to be seen. It makes one wonder if they will appear or be referenced at all in the film. It wouldn’t harm the movie if they’re absent for it, but it would be fun for fans to see more beloved Tom and Jerry characters on the big screen. 

Overall, it looks like a cute family film that will have exciting action, humorous slapstick, and feel a lot like the classic Tom and Jerry we all know and love. It doesn’t look to be anything new, but it looks to be exactly what it needs to be. It’s a relief to see the movie actually be about Tom and Jerry fighting each other with over-the-top comedic violence, they’re not talking, and they’re probably not friends. The hand-drawn 2-D animation looks beautiful and reinforces how much the filmmakers are trying to recapture what is known to work for Tom and Jerry. It’s exciting they are taking a Who Framed Roger Rabbit? approach, but perhaps Tom and Jerry should stay in complete animation. We’ll see how the outcome is when the movie releases in 2021. 

2 comments

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