The movie begins with a skyline view of New York City, illustrated to look as realistic as possible, and a singing bird. The bird is cartoon against a real-life backdrop, and singing Can I Kick It by a Tribe Called Quest. This intro scene basically describes the vibe of the entire movie, which is abstract and out of place, but also nostalgic and occasionally familiar.
The first thing that gave me pause was that Tom, Jerry and their other pals that were included in the movie had gotten an update to their cartoon features. They were much more highly detailed and had more specific attributes than the original cartoons. This was quite off-putting, especially when they were set against the normal looking background. However, they were not so different that I couldn’t recognize the other characters who made short appearances, including Spike (the bulldog), Butch (the street cat) and his cronies, and Toodles (the pretty cat who Tom always goes after). I did not know they were going to include some of the other original cast, and it brought back some fun memories to see them there.
Another important factor of the movie was the way Tom and Jerry interacted. In the old cartoons, they are virtually invincible and constantly testing the limits of their invincibility, dropping anvils on each other, falling out of windows, smacking each other across the face with various objects, and generally beating each other up. They included this same level of violence in the movie, but it was super disconnected from the realistic background of New York City. When they first started beating each other up, I found myself wincing, because it felt so much more real and painful since they were in the actual world, not a fully cartoon world. But I did appreciate that they used a lot of the classic moves that are typical of Tom and Jerry, and recognizing some of these antics made the movie feel a lot more nostalgic. However, they overused the idea of the “pet fight cloud”, when two or more of the animals get into a punching match so big it turns into a blur of fists. This happens occasionally in the show for just a couple of seconds until something breaks up the fight, but the movie used it as a plot point. They had several of these punching matches that caused serious damage to the hotel where Tom and Jerry were staying, and it just seemed so silly and incongruous with the way the movie had previously shown the relationship between cartoon animals and real people. This idea got taken a bit overboard when they used to to move the story along, and it looked even more weird when it became a force of change in the real world. I thought they should have done a better job with keeping the cartoon and authentic worlds separated.
Overall, I had fun watching the movie. Even though it was definitely a bit strange, and the storyline was not great, it was enjoyable to see some of my favorite cartoon characters from childhood duke it out once again. I would recommend this movie if you are just looking for something fun and easy to watch.