Tom & Jerry (2021 film)

Tom & Jerry[4] (marketed as Tom & Jerry: The Movie)[5] is a 2021 American live-action/computer-animated slapstick comedy film based on the titular cartoon characters of the same name created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, produced by the Warner Animation Group and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is the second theatrical film based on the characters following 1992's Tom and Jerry: The Movie. The film follows Tom being hired by a young employee named Kayla to exterminate Jerry, a mouse who takes refuge in New York City's fanciest hotel, before his presence threatens the hotel and its important wedding set to take place on the hotel grounds.

Tom & Jerry
Tom & Jerry (Official 2021 Film Poster).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTim Story
Written byKevin Costello
Based onTom and Jerry
by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
Produced byChris DeFaria
Starring
CinematographyAlan Stewart
Edited byPeter S. Elliot
Music byChristopher Lennertz
Production
companies
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • February 10, 2021 (2021-02-10) (International)
  • February 26, 2021 (2021-02-26) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$79 million[2]
Box office$132.8 million[3][1]

The film is directed by Tim Story and written by Kevin Costello.[6] It stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Colin Jost, Rob Delaney, Pallavi Sharda, Jordan Bolger, Patsy Ferran, and Ken Jeong in live-action roles, with Nicky Jam, Bobby Cannavale, and Lil Rel Howery in voice roles. The titular characters are voiced by William Hanna, Mel Blanc and June Foray via archival recordings, alongside Frank Welker, Kaiji Tang and André Sogliuzzo (though the characters are listed as themselves in the credits). Originally announced as a live-action/computer-animated film in 2009, the film languished in development hell for several years. Plans eventually shifted to producing an entirely animated film, in the same vein as the original theatrical shorts, in 2015. The film again became a live-action/animated hybrid in 2018, with animation produced by the Warner Animation Group, and filming beginning in 2019.[7]

Tom & Jerry was theatrically released by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States on February 26, 2021, along with a one-month simultaneous streaming release on HBO Max. The film has grossed over $132 million on a $79 million budget and received mixed reviews from critics, who criticized the human characters and screenplay, but praised its nostalgic feel, animation, visual effects, slapstick humor, and faithfulness to the source material.[8]

PlotEdit

In Manhattan, New York, Thomas D. Cat, who dreams of becoming a pianist, plays in Central Park. Meanwhile, his longtime rival Jerome A. Mouse is in search of a new home. After Tom's keyboard is destroyed in a fight to earn money for their goals, he chases Jerry, but bumps into Kayla Forester, who loses her job as a result. Jerry takes refuge in New York's fanciest hotel, the Royal Gate, while Tom chases after him and fails to break in, which includes being antagonized by Butch, Topsy, Meathead, Lightning, and Ash, who Tom retaliates by having the animal control go after them. Kayla applies for a position at The Royal Gate with a stolen resume from a woman named Linda and she presents as her own and is hired by Henry Dubros, the hotel's wealthy owner with a pet goldfish named Goldie, to help set up a high-profile wedding. Kayla gets a tour of the hotel, while Jerry's regular shenanigans involve stealing food and items to ramp up his new lifestyle, and Tom tries various more strategies to break into the hotel to pursue Jerry.

Local celebrities Preeta Mehta and her fiancé Ben are greeted as they arrive, along with their pets Spike and Toots, unaware of Jerry stealing from Preeta's handbag, with the exception of Spike who notices him. As the couple is escorted to their room, Jerry's presence is revealed when he infiltrates the kitchen, which puts the wedding and the hotel at risk. Kayla offers to help catch Jerry, but fails and realizes that he won't be easy to catch. After many failed attempts, Tom successfully enters the hotel, under the influence of his shoulder devil. A fight and chase between him and Jerry wrecks an entire hotel room. Kayla comes to check, due to noise complaints, while Jerry quickly gets away. Due to their same goal of catching Jerry, she befriends Tom and persuades Dubros to hire Tom, despite event manager Terence Mendoza's objections, who threatens to fire both Tom and Kayla, if Tom fails to catch Jerry.

After many attempts to catch Jerry, Tom designs a big mouse trap and gets Jerry out of the hotel. Meanwhile, Kayla helps with the wedding plans and then learns from Preeta that her engagement ring is missing, which is revealed to be stolen by Jerry. He returns and agrees to give it back to her, if she lets him stay in the hotel. Before Kayla can agree, during her and Tom's celebration with bartender Cameron about Jerry's disappearance, Terence returns from walking Spike, and tries to look into Jerry hiding in Kayla's coat pocket, but ends up creating a huge scene to which causes Spike, Tom, and Jerry's ensuing chase to demolish the hotel's lobby.

Terence is put on leave, while Kayla takes over as event manager for returning Preeta's engagement ring stolen by Jerry. Kayla tells Tom and Jerry that, if they want to stay in the hotel, the pair will have to get along and spend the whole next day far away from the hotel, to which they agree. While Kayla takes care of the hotel and manages the wedding with the crew, Tom and Jerry bond during their trip but are taken to a pet compound, after they inadvertently disrupt a baseball game. Saved from Tom being manipulated by Butch and his gang to eat Jerry, a vengeful Terence separately visits Tom and Jerry and tells lies of what the pair said to each other behind their backs, which angers them and incites them to fight and chase at the wedding, resulting in the wedding ruined and the rest of the hotel getting destroyed.

After Preeta renounces the wedding, Kayla leaves in shame and Tom gets kicked out. A remorseful Tom and Jerry reconcile with each other and finally decide to work together and fix everything up. To make up for the hotel being destroyed by their cat-and-mouse battle, they convince Kayla, Cameron and the hotel crew, which includes a reluctant Terence, to salvage the wedding. Tom and Jerry pursue Preeta and Toots using Ben's motorized skateboard and drone to lure them to Central Park, where the wedding is being held. Kayla convinces Preeta that Tom and Jerry have changed their ways, while Ben apologizes to Preeta because of the extensive expenses, in light of impressing her dad. As a result, Kayla and Linda, the woman who owns the resume, both get jobs at the hotel, while Tom and Jerry are allowed to stay at the hotel, as well.

The wedding reception continues, until a mishap caused by Jerry reignites his longtime cat-and-mouse battle with Tom, with Spike also joining the chase. Upon being noticed by the disapproving wedding and hotel crowd, Tom pulls a curtain featuring the classic "The End" headline from the cartoons, breaking the fourth wall, thus allowing the two rivals to continue antagonizing each other.

The movie ends with a post-credits scene, showing Ben in feelings of bewilderment when finding out that he's being charged full-price for both weddings.

CastEdit

  • Chloë Grace Moretz as Kayla Forester, a young employee of the Royal Gate Hotel and a wedding planner who hires Tom to remove Jerry before the wedding.
  • Michael Peña as Terence Mendoza, the no-nonsense turned scheming event manager of the Royal Gate Hotel and Kayla's boss.
  • Colin Jost as Ben, the groom of the wedding the Royal Gate Hotel is planning and hosting. Ben is also the owner of Spike.
  • Rob Delaney as Mr. Henry Dubros, the wealthy general manager and owner of the Royal Gate Hotel.
  • Pallavi Sharda as Preeta Mehta, the bride of the wedding, and Ben's fiancée. Preeta is also the owner of Toodles "Toots" Galore, a female cat.
  • Jordan Bolger as Cameron, a bartender at the Royal Gate Hotel.
  • Patsy Ferran as Joy the Bell Girl, an awkward Royal Gate Hotel bellhop.
  • Ken Jeong as Chef Jackie, a chef and baker at the Royal Gate Hotel who has an extreme dislike for Jerry.

Voice and animated castEdit

  • Tom as Himself. Tom is a stray cat and Jerry's rival. At the start of the film, he tries to make a living as a blind busker playing the keyboard, but his blindness is exposed as a fraud because of Jerry's antics. He is later hired by Kayla to get rid of Jerry at the hotel. He is listed in the closing title cards as "Thomas D. Cat as Himself". He does not have a speaking role, but there is a song where he is voiced by T-Pain.[9]
  • Jerry as Himself. Jerry is a mischievous house mouse and Tom's rival. He takes up residence at the hotel. Jerry is listed in the closing title cards as "Jerome A. Mouse as Himself". He does not have a speaking role, but voice actor Andre Sogliuzzo has said that he was "able to voice [Jerry] in some small way" even though "he doesn't say much".[10]
  • Bobby Cannavale as Spike, a brutish yet goofy American bulldog who has an extreme dislike for Tom and is also Ben's family pet.
  • Nicky Jam as Butch, a disgruntled black alley cat who is the leader of a gang of alley cats in Manhattan who antagonizes Tom.
  • Plastic Cup Boyz are the Alley Cats
  • Lil Rel Howery as Angel/Devil Tom, Tom's shoulder angel and shoulder devil
  • Utkarsh Ambudkar as Real Estate Rat
  • Tim Story as Pigeon Announcer

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

"Working on ‘Tom & Jerry’ was a hugely exciting and intimidating experience. There’s a reason these characters are still so popular, 81 years later, all over the world, and I wanted to be extremely careful to honor that. Tom and Jerry had to be themselves—look like themselves, not talk like themselves and, obviously, engage in absurd, gleeful, over-the-top cartoon violence. I had so much fun going through the old shorts, trying to break everything down on a character level, and finding ways to recontextualize classic elements in a way that felt nostalgic but new."

Kevin Costello

"What we’ve done with this film is to take this historical pair as you would normally see them in, say, a house, but put them on a much bigger canvas. Now, they’re inside a huge hotel and in the presence of actual humans. Not necessarily talking with them, of course, but definitely interacting with them. We stayed true to the original characters.”

Tim Story

“Audiences will see Tom and Jerry in a way I don’t think anybody’s ever seen before: a hybrid film with the classic animation that allows us to bring all the crazy stunts and gags people associate with the original cartoons into a live-action, real-world environment.”

Chris DeFaria

Plans for a live-action Tom and Jerry film were announced in 2009, after the success of Alvin and the Chipmunks, and would’ve followed Tom and Jerry's origins over a Chicago backdrop. The film would’ve been produced by Dan Lin, from a script written by Eric Gravning.[11]

On April 6, 2015, plans shifted from a live-action film to a fully animated film, that would stay "in the same vein as the source material".[12]

In October 2018, it was announced that Tim Story would direct a live-action/animated Tom and Jerry film for Warner Bros., which would begin filming in 2019. It was reported that Story was in discussions with Warner Bros. executives about what he was interested in directing, next. When Warner Bros. executives brought up the Tom and Jerry film as an option, Story immediately mentioned his "admiration for the characters and how he'd love tackling that property."[13] Director Tim Story, producer Chris DeFaria, and, screenwriter Kevin Costello were all incredibly focused to make the film stay in the same vein as the original theatrical shorts and honor the characters that they also agreed to use more than 100 classic Tom and Jerry cartoons as reference material to develop the film, which Warner Bros. Pictures allowed them to gain access to.[14][15] Simultaneously, Story also ran through many of the classic shorts from memory, during production.[16]

CastingEdit

In March 2019, it was reported that Zoey Deutch and Olivia Cooke were frontrunners for the lead live-action role of Kayla, "who teams up with Tom to stop the pesky Jerry from ruining an important event for herself." Additionally, Sofia Carson, Elle Fanning, Jennifer Lawrence, Ariel Winter, Naomi Scott, Meg Donnelly, Hailee Steinfeld, Yara Shahidi, Kelly Marie Tran, Becky G and Isabela Moner were all in consideration for the role.[17] Later that month, it was reported that Peter Dinklage was being considered for the role of Terrance, Kayla's boss and the human antagonist of the film.[18] In April, Chloë Grace Moretz was in final negotiations to star in the film.[19][20] Moretz described Kayla as "a lot like Jerry" and as "a girl who gunned for what she wanted to achieve but realizes that time and honesty is what will prevail in the end", as well as "a total goofball", the latter aspect which allowed Moretz to "lean into who [she is] in real life".[21] She also said Kayla is "a little unlikeable with some of the decisions she makes", yet she still wanted the character to feel likeable.[22] Moretz was inspired in her performance by Bob Hoskins' performance as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, as well as by actresses Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston, Lucille Ball, and Meg Ryan.[22] In May 2019, Michael Peña joined the cast in the role Dinklage was eyed for.[23] Colin Jost, Ken Jeong, Rob Delaney, Jordan Bolger and Pallavi Sharda were added to the cast in July.[24][25] Patsy Ferran was revealed to be part of the cast in September 2019.[26]

In November 2020, Nicky Jam and Lil Rel Howery revealed that they have been cast in the film in voice roles.[27][28] On December 2, 2020, Jam revealed that he will be the voice of Butch Cat in the film.[29]

FilmingEdit

Principal photography began in July 2019 at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in Hertfordshire, England.[30] The film was shot by cinematographer Alan Stewart, on the Sony VENICE cinema cameras and Panavision Primo 70 and Primo Artiste Lenses.[31] Animators were present during filming, allowing cast members to improvise while figures of the titular characters were handled by puppeteers.[22] Filming ended before the industry's temporary shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[32]

AnimationEdit

Animation services were provided by Framestore, who hired 3D animators with a passion for 2D animation for the project. The strategy the animators used was to base the animation off a stylized 3D/CGI VFX modeling medium through a vintage 2D finish by creating innovative rigging, animation techniques used to create 2D animation, and custom tools such as lighting and rendering, resulting in the film's 3D/CGI animation maintaining the look, feel, and spirit of 2D animation, in the vein of the original classic shorts in the 1940s and 1950s, to pay even greater homage to what the cartoons have always been.[33][34] The animators also used early Tom and Jerry shorts from the '40s and '50s as reference and inspiration for the animation sequences.[35] Work on the animation was done remotely during the pandemic, with the filmmakers doing creative exploration on certain shots, and finalizing material through production groups.[36][32] Numerous animators who worked on films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Space Jam have also been involved with the animation of the movie.[37]

It was important to have the animated characters be in 2D because the classic cartoons were in 2D. We could actually have them look exactly as they always did, but at the same time live in the 3D world.

— Tim Story

MusicEdit

On July 22, 2020, it was announced that Tim Story's recurring collaborator and composer Christopher Lennertz is set to compose the score of the film.[38] The album was released by WaterTower Music on February 12, having 30 tracks.[39]

ReleaseEdit

Theatrical and streamingEdit

Tom & Jerry was released in the United States on February 26, 2021, by Warner Bros. Pictures, in theaters and for a month streaming on HBO Max. The movie coincidentally released on Tex Avery's birthdate, in which the movie stars for a brief second one of Avery's characters, Droopy, in an animal shelter and on a Joker parody billboard.[40][41][42] It is the first film to officially debut the new Warner Animation Group logo to match with the new shield that Warner Bros. debuted in November 2019.[43] It was originally scheduled to be released on April 16, 2021,[44] but was pushed up to December 23, 2020.[45] The film was then pushed back to March 5, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, before moving up a week in order to avoid competition with Disney's Raya And The Last Dragon.[46] Samba TV estimated that 1.2 million U.S. households streamed the film over its opening weekend on HBO Max.[47]

On March 8, 2021, some HBO Max viewers who attempted to watch the film were accidentally shown Zack Snyder's Justice League, a movie which was supposed to release 10 days later. HBO Max quickly fixed the issue within two hours.[48]

MarketingEdit

A float of the characters appeared in the 94th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to promote the film.[49]

On September 1, 2020, it was announced that Australian and Danish toy company Moose Toys and The Lego Group made a deal with Warner Bros. to make merchandise for the film.[50]

On February 20, 2021, Warner Bros. released two new shorts onto HBO Max titled Tom and Jerry Special Shorts to honor the 81st anniversary of Tom and Jerry, as well as to promote the film. These shorts share the style and crew of the other HBO max original Looney Tunes Shorts , also produced by Warner Bros. Animation.[51][52][53][better source needed]. The shorts were removed a month later for unknown reasons.[54] On July 8, 2021 the shorts has been brought back.

On March 6, 2021, Rob Delaney had been the star guest Announcer for Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, whereas the titular characters made an appearance themselves with Sir Tom Jones.[55][56]

Home mediaEdit

The film was available for rent on April 16, while Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released it on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital on May 18, 2021.[57][58]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

As of July 18, 2021, Tom & Jerry has grossed $46 million in the United States and Canada, and $81.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $127.1 million.[3][1]

In the United States and Canada, the film grossed $4 million from 2,479 theaters on its first day of release. It went on to debut to $14.1 million, the second-best opening weekend of the pandemic behind Warner Bros.'s December release Wonder Woman 1984 ($16.4 million). The opening weekend audiences were 51% female and 46% under the age of 17, while 35% was Hispanic, 33% Caucasian, 21% African American, and 11% Asian.[2] David Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, said of the figure: "With half of theaters still closed, the pandemic still a threat, and Tom & Jerry available at home, this is a very good opening."[59] In its second weekend the film grossed $6.6 million and in its third made $4 million, finishing second behind newcomer Raya and the Last Dragon both times.[60][61]

The film was initially released in seven international markets, grossing $1.45 million; Singapore led with $457,000.[62] By its second weekend of international release the film was playing in 16 markets, including debuting at number one in Brazil ($746,000) and Mexico ($395,000).[63]

Critical responseEdit

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 31% based on 125 reviews, with an average rating of 4.70/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "It isn't the worst of the long-squabbling duo's feature-length adventures, but Tom & Jerry is disappointingly short on the anarchic spirit of their classic shorts."[64] According to Metacritic, which has assigned the film a weighted average score of 32 out of 100 based on 20 critics, the film received "generally unfavorable reviews".[65] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 79% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 60% saying they would definitely recommend it.[2]

The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore said that audiences should just "rewatch Roger Rabbit instead" and wrote: "Tim Story's Tom & Jerry is five to ten minutes of action that might have worked in one of the cartoon duo's shorts, surrounded by an inordinate amount of unimaginative, unfunny human-based conflict."[66] Kevin Maher of The Times gave the film a score of 1 out of 5 stars, writing: "nothing will prepare you for the tone-deaf nature of this live-action abomination that inserts our cartoon protagonists, Who Framed Roger Rabbit-style, into a crass Manhattan misadventure about a celebrity wedding gone awry."[67] Benjamin Lee of The Guardian gave the film a score of 2 out of 5 stars, writing: "While there’s little to truly loathe in Fantastic Four and Ride Along director Tim Story’s frantic new take on Tom & Jerry, there’s also an equal lack of anything to truly love; this is a serviceable, if entirely forgettable attempt to relaunch an old property for a new audience."[68] Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent gave the film a score of 1 out of 5 stars, describing it as "the cinematic equivalent of a sausage casing stuffed with mystery meat", though she praised Moretz's performance.[69]

Matt Fowler of IGN gave the film a score of 6/10, and wrote: "Tom & Jerry is a sufficient family offering with a cool cast, a sparkling soundtrack, and occasional fun. It's too bad that Tom and Jerry often feel like afterthoughts in their own film and that there wasn't much more for them to do other than serve the story of others."[70] Charlotte O'Sullivan of the Evening Standard gave the film a score of 3 out of 5 stars, writing: "Ignore catty reviews that present this caper as soulless. Though horribly flawed, its internal organs are in the right place."[71] Peter Debruge of Variety was positive on the film and said: "Truth be told, the movie’s a pretty faithful extension of the frenemies’ long-running feud — basically, the two cannot peacefully coexist under the same roof — and as such, we should be grateful to director Tim Story (“Shaft”) and screenwriter Kevin Costello (“Brigsby Bear”) for not dropping a two-ton anvil on our nostalgia, the way so many big-studio toonsploitation projects have in recent years."[42]

Animated spin-off and SequelEdit

Tom and Jerry in New York is an HBO Max original animated series produced by Warner Bros. Animation (outsourced by Renegade Animation, the team behind the 2014 Cartoon Network TV series, The Tom and Jerry Show) that is a follow-up to the film, which follows Tom and Jerry as new residents of The Royal Gate Hotel, with their usual antics and mayhem to follow them all over the hotel and beyond, going across Manhattan, New York City. It was released on July 1, 2021.[72]

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