Kayla (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a struggling young woman in New York who manages to finesse her way into a job at the prestigious Royal Gate Hotel, just as a major wedding for two socialites (Colin Jost and Pallavi Sharda) is due to be hosted there. In order to deal with a mouse problem, Kayla takes on Tom to catch him and chaos quickly spreads across the hotel...

 

What's the one thing you remember about Tom & Jerry, other than the outrageous violence? The two characters are as venerable as Mickey Mouse or Daffy Duck, but don't seem to have the same cultural cache as them. Instead, they're relegated to movies like this. Bland, uninventive live-action hybrids with a cast of mid-level actors filling out their roles with all of the vim and vigor of a decent paycheque and the opportunity to work not far from their palatial apartments/townhouses in New York. Colin Jost of 'SNL' probably filmed his scenes in between seasons of the show. Chloe Moretz, meanwhile, is between roles and decided to give this a go as it's easy money for little work. Even the cat and the mouse aren't giving it their all here.

So much of what makes 'Tom & Jerry' unlikeable is that it's not even trying to be funny. It's setting up jokes, letting them do their thing, and then expecting some kind of laugh afterwards. They're even recycling some of the set-ups from the original animated shorts of the '40s and '50s. It's not even being done in a coy way, or to somehow honour the legacy of their characters. It's being done because it's a joke that worked then and the presumption is it would work now. Live-action animated hybrids like this are supposed to be inventive.

You only need to look at something like 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?', 'Space Jam', or recent efforts like 'Pokemon Detective Pikachu' to know that it can be done well and done in a fresh way. It doesn't even have to be fresh, it just has to be better than this. Tim Story's work has generally tended towards very safe and familiar movies. 'Ride Along', for example, is every single buddy-cop movie you've ever seen - except with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in the roles. Odds are it came about because of how well Ice Cube came across in the far-superior '21 Jump Street' reboot. The 2019 reboot of 'Shaft', meanwhile, had almost nothing going for it other than seeing Richard Roundtree back on screen again.

It could very well be that kids might see something in this movie that adults can't, but it seems unlikely. All it's got going for it is a lot of colourful animated characters whipping across the screen with bored actors chasing after them, smiling and frowning as needed. Nobody else in this, be it Moretz, the usually reliable Rob Delaney, Michael Pena, Colin Jost - any of them - appear to be remotely engaged with the material. Indeed, the movie only begins to pick itself up when they're not on screen and it's left to the animated characters to entertain.

This then begs the question as to why they even had a live-action component in the first place when it's used so poorly and almost feels as though it's surplus to requirements. It's all just so empty and dull, so lifelessly plotted and so deeply uninterested in itself that you have to wonder how anyone involved in it even dragged themselves to the set in the first place, beyond the promise of hard cash. After that, there's nothing here for anyone else.

 

'Tom and Jerry' is available to rent on PVOD from digital retailers from March 25th.