With all the merry mayhem they've caused mostly to each other with frying pans over the past 50 years in animated shorts, Tom and Jerry's first feature-length film would seem long overdue.
It's unfortunate then, that "Tom and Jerry: The Movie" fails to capture the subtle nuance in facial expressions, pregnant pauses, perfectly orchestrated music and classical animation that separated the duo's gleeful slapstick antics during its theatrical years from the more sluggish, stiffly drawn cartoons that were later made for television.
Yes, this one is more like those TV shorts, padded out to feature length with mediocre musical numbers (by Henry Mancini and Leslie Bricusse) and uplifting, "politically correct" dialogue exchanges. And, yes, Tom and Jerry speak!
Even the plot here would seem more at home with Care Bears or Smurfs, as Tom and Jerry find themselves in the inner city, receive lessons on how to get along better and then link up with a young girl who is trying to find her father.
The film starts off like a fairly typical Tom and Jerry short, as the first 10 minutes or so has them chasing each other around the house. But that house is about to see the wrecking ball as the suburban neighborhood goes urban.
The family that owns Tom drives off thinking he's with them but he has stayed behind to rescue Jerry when he sees the house being demolished. Soon, they are on the streets of the big city, befriended by an amiable mutt and his best friend, a flea, who offer instruction on how to get along better.
At this point, the film's energy pretty much comes to a halt.
Eventually, Tom and Jerry link up with the girl to help her escape her evil aunt and go on a search for her father.
There are some amusing moments here and there (the biggest laugh comes, oddly, from a cameo appearance by Droopy the dog, no doubt recognized by little ones who have seen him doing cameos in Roger Rabbit shorts).
But there's no question that "Tom and Jerry: The Movie" will look much more at home on video. This one is strictly for the kiddies.
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