A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tom and Jerry: The Movie is a feature-length cartoon made in 1992, and it's a decided departure from the usual cat-and-mouse offerings. Tom and Jerry are in full talk mode in this movie for the first (and only) time. They spend the first few minutes fighting and outwitting one another, with the usual chases, falls, bumps, and explosions. The rest of the film is a joint effort by the beloved characters as they try to rescue and help a young orphaned heiress facing an array of cutthroat villains. Plus, hoping to establish some equity in the musical genre (perhaps in an effort to cash in on some of the Disney magic), the movie has a full score of musical production numbers composed by Henry Mancini and Leslie Bricusse, two well-known songwriters. Though there is some of the expected cartoon mayhem (fire, an avalanche, danger on "the mean streets"), the conflict is provided by human scoundrels with evil on their minds. It appears that the film did not achieve the hoped-for success and remains the only Tom and Jerry movie of its kind.
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What's the story?
TOM AND JERRY: THE MOVIE finds the perennially fighting cat and mouse on a non-traditional adventure. Instead of the typical Tom and Jerry story line and traditional cat-and-mouse antics, the filmmakers opted for a fairy tale, a complete musical score with song-and-dance numbers, and Richard Kind and Dana Hill as the voices of Tom and Jerry. Accidentally left behind when their family moves and their beloved house is demolished, Tom and Jerry are homeless, forced to hang together to survive. When they meet Robyn Starling (Anndi McAfee), a little girl who believes she's an orphan and has run away from her scary, mean Aunt Figg (Charlotte Rae, shrill and scary), T and J find new purpose. They commit themselves to rescue Robyn and, in their efforts, face an assortment of very bad guys, all of whom will stop at nothing to get their hands on Robyn's fortune. The chase gets more intense when the villains learn that Robyn's father may not be dead after all.
Is it any good?
Someone had a very bad idea. The cherished mystique of the almost-silent cat-and-mouse cartoon antics of Tom and Jerry is shattered here by the startling addition of the characters' voices. Whatever kids (grown-ups, too) have imagined them to sound like can't possibly be anticipated, can't possibly be duplicated, and is bound to fail. And, somehow, the guys have managed to express themselves very well without words. Coupled with a derivative, forgettable musical score (with the exception of "Friends to the End" and, perhaps, "I Miss You") and a plot that goes in several directions at the same time with so many peripheral characters you'd need index cards to keep them all straight, this is a barely passable effort. It's interesting to note that this was a one-time-only endeavor; neither the voices nor the pairing of Mancini-Bricusse with Tom and Jerry ever appeared again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what happens when an established franchise switches gears. How was this movie different from the usual Tom and Jerry fare? Were you disappointed, or did you like the changes the filmmakers made?
What parts of this movie reminded you most of a fairy tale? Who was the "princess"? Which villain was most like an evil witch or stepmother or king? What fairy tale character roles did Tom and Jerry fill?
"You can't tell a book by its cover" is a famous saying. How does it relate to all of the villains in this movie? Based on your answer, what does the term "hidden agenda" mean?
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