In a clip from the live-action-animation hybrid Tom and Jerry movie reboot, the classic cartoon characters trash not just a hotel room but the whole building. The duo was created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, who would later co-found the major animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions. 114 original short films were made for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer during the first era of Tom and Jerry cartoons, after which the characters migrated to other studios.
As cats and mice tend to be, Tom and Jerry are born rivals. In most shorts and episodes, the two are engaged in ever-escalating fights that result in slapstick humor and exaggerated physical gags. A mutual obsession that borders on love drives both to develop elaborate strategies in attempts to outwit the other that often result in cartoon violence and destruction of their environment. Despite their rivalry, Tom and Jerry put aside their differences when faced with a common enemy, or when their interests align. The anthropomorphized animals possess human intelligence and instincts, although neither speaks for the most part. Following the toon’s run at MGM, Tom & Jerry went through various iterations before making its way to Warner Bros., the show’s current owner.
Cartoon Network offers a sneak peek at the characters’ latest incarnation in Tom & Jerry The Movie on Youtube. The 80-year-old toons haven’t aged a day, although their animation has gotten a fresh new update since their last appearance on screen. Like Space Jam did with Looney Tunes, this new reboot plucks cartoon characters from their old-timey, animated world and places them in the “real” (live-action) modern world. Cartoon Network is a subsidiary of Warner Bros., which means that Tom & Jerry The Movie will be released in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously like all of the studio’s 2021 productions. Tickets are on sale now for a February 26 premiere. Watch the old frenemies reunite to cause mayhem in the trailer here:
In the real world, Tom and Jerry appear to be squatting in a hotel. It’s implied that Jerry has taken up residence as a building pest, but Tom’s reason for hanging around isn’t established. The scene begins with Tom and Jerry squabbling as per usual and quickly escalates into a full-on chase when a guest walks in with Spike, a pugnacious bulldog from the old cartoons. Chloë Grace Moretz plays a flustered hotel employee trying in vain to control the situation by bartering with the toons before it erupts into chaos. Michael Peña (Ant-Man) plays the hotel manager who gets caught up in the action as other hotel staff played by Jordan Bolger (Peaky Blinders), Patsy Ferran (How to Build a Girl), and Christina Chong (Doctor Who) look on.
If the idea of an animated cat and mouse destroying a luxury hotel wasn’t enough of a selling point, a few other names involved in the movie might be a draw. A litter of comedians including Rob Delaney, SNL’s Colin Jost, Ken Jeong, and Lil Rel Howery all feature, Howery only audibly as the Angel and Devil in Tom’s conscience. Reggaeton-pop star Ozuna also makes a surprise cameo as one of the hotel staff, perhaps jockeying for a future role in Cats 2 alongside Taylor Swift and Jason Derulo. Director Tim Story has said that keeping the characters 2-dimensional in a 3-D world was the best way to stay true to the original cartoon—the combination has worked in the past, so the addition of a real-world setting could make for a fun, whimsical experience. Considering the chaotic state of the world, the idea of cartoon animals wreaking havoc in a hotel doesn’t actually seem all that implausible.