A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure has enough "rock 'em-sock 'em" cartoon action to meet Tom & Jerry fans' expectations, there's more story here and less frantic slapstick violence than usual. In fact, the usual parody and pratfalls give way to a sweet tale in which the cat and mouse help a worthy little boy and his single mom save their home, their town, and their dreams. This episode has several musical numbers, more dialogue than most Tom and Jerry entries, and relies on familiar Mother Goose characters, as well as usual T & J colleagues Spike and Droopy for its charm. The story, basically a retelling of "Jack and the Beanstalk," includes a giant who could be frightening to very young or sensitive kids. The giant threatens everyone in Storybook Town... he promises to grind them up and turn them into bread, but he's ultimately a buffoonish bully who is easily vanquished after the usual crash-and-burn pratfalls.
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What's the story?
TOM AND JERRY'S GIANT ADVENTURE opens with the Farmer in the Dell (Garrison Keillor) introducing Storybook Town, a magical place populated by Mother Goose characters and fairy tale folks. It's a land that's fallen on hard times after the death of Joe Bradley, its visionary creator. In a mere 24 hours, the widow Bradley and her son Jack will lose everything to a greedy developer who plans to turn the entire enterprise into a strip mall. But the villainous fellow didn't count upon the spirit and courage of young Jack, aided by his new best friends Tom and Jerry. And, he didn't expect to be foiled by some magic beans, a towering beanstalk, and a ferocious giant facing off against a team of unlikely heroes. Will Joe Bradley's message about believing in your dreams and believing in yourself come true? Will Tom and Jerry stop pranking each other in time to help Jack save his wonderful town? Do fairy tales and Tom & Jerry movies have happy endings?
Is it any good?
It's clear that the filmmakers have made an effort to downplay the comic violence (without disappointing its fans) and tell an oft-told story in the oft-told, pleasing Tom and Jerry way.
Relying less on slapstick action and more on story and character, this Tom and Jerry episode finds its happy ending amid the nostalgia and familiarity of nursery rhyme characters (i.e., Old King Cole, played wonderfully by Droopy), an iconic villain bent on getting his rent from a struggling young mom, and a trip up the magical beanstalk. The musical numbers are forgettable at best; there's nothing new or terribly inventive in any of the cartoonish pratfalls; but there's a certain charm in hearing Garrison Keillor's silken tones describing Storybook Town as if it were Lake Wobegon and watching Tom and Jerry work as team almost from beginning to end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss "crossover" movies -- movies that use well-known and well-loved TV and film characters in very old fairy tales or stories. Why do you think they are so popular? Think (or write) about a fairy tale that you like and try to come up with some favorite other characters to play the parts.
Tom and Jerry aren't really enemies in this cartoon; they mostly work together. Did that fact make the movie more enjoyable, less enjoyable, or about the same as the movies in which they are always battling? Why?
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