What do you do when you want to make a movie starring the most popular cat and mouse in the world? Why, give them the ability to talk and sing, make them become friends, add a bunch of humans, turn it into a musical, and strip all the slapstick, of course!
The film starts with Tom and Jerry going off on their own after their home is demolished, only to discover that they can talk — and sing — as they become friends. They encounter an orphan girl named Robyn Starling, who becomes the main figure in the story as our cat and mouse duo try to help her find her father who enjoys dressing up as Indiana Jones, while evading her greedy, evil Aunt Figg and her lawyer Mr. Lickboot. And then there's the dog on a skateboard, two dogcatchers who look like either burglars or Mexican wrestlers, a performing ship captain and his puppet parrot, and a doctor who kidnaps rich pets and holds them for ransom...
Unfortunately, because all of this was completely unrelated to Tom & Jerry or their legacy, the film bombed and was critically panned, and the Direct-to-Video Tom and Jerry films made since have, to their credit, tried to stay closer to the original formula. It is worth noting that Joseph Barbera worked on this movie and allowed all of this to occur. Then again, he was also involved in their 1970's incarnation, which was equally watered-down. Suffice it to say, Tom and Jerry: The Movie is the only work in the franchise of its kind.
Tropes used in this movie include:
- Advertised Extra: Droopy. Despite what the cover looks like, don't expect to see much of him. His cameo is less than 10 seconds long.
- Amoral Attorney: Lickboot. Lampshaded by Aunt Figg.Figg: You're a lawyer! Scheme!
- And Starring: Charlotte Rae as Aunt Figg. Why the filmmakers evidently thought Edna Garrett was such a big draw remains a mystery.
- Animated Musical: There's a surprising amount of songs for a Tom & Jerry movie.
- Animate Inanimate Object: Captain Kiddie's hand puppet Squawk seems to have a mind of his own, noticing Robyn's picture on a milk carton before Kiddie does and sings with Kiddie. He also eats cookies and drinks milk.
- Award-Bait Song: The end credits has a pop version of "I Miss You" (the song Robyn sings), this time sung by Stephanie Mills (this version of the song is strangely absent from the soundtrack) which is slowly followed by "All In How Much We Give" also sung by Stephanie Mills.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: When the demolition begins, Tom races to rescue Jerry from his mousehole despite him being able to easily escape without Jerry's aid.
- Big Damn Heroes: Robyn's father rescuing her from the burning house via his helicopter.
- Body Wipe: Where Dr. Applecheeks walks towards that ice cream stand with an evil smile. As he fills up the camera, the screen fades to black. Of note is the incredibly (and probably unintentionally) creepy way this is done.
- The Cameo: Droopy makes one.
- Captain Ersatz: Robyn's father has an uncanny resemblance to Indiana Jones. With a mustache.
- Chewing the Scenery: Tony Jay as Lickboot. Especially when delivering the "We've got to have money!" line.
- Conspicuous CG: The boat our heroes ride on during the final chase scene.
- Covers Always Lie: Newly released DVD copies of the film use the same cover that is pictured above, sans any of the human characters that actually dominate the film! We still have Droopy as an Advertised Extra though.
- Darker and Edgier: While in the shorts all the violence and danger was always Played for Laughs, here the central conflict revolves around a child whose mother died and father was presumed dead for most of the movie. Also as noted by The Nostalgia Critic, when Tom gets cut to pieces in the movie, his insides are actually blood colored.
- Decoy Protagonist/Out of Focus: Tom and Jerry in their own movie! It's Robyn who's the main star.
- Disappeared Dad: Robyn's father, who is presumed dead.
- Disney Death: Tom and Jerry themselves.
- Epic Flail: When Tom is hit by a wrecking ball that destroys their home early in the film.
- Even Evil Has Standards: When the cabin is burning down, Lickboot seems genuinely concerned for Robyn's safety.
- Evil Overlooker: Aunt Figg on the above poster.
- Expy: Aunt Figg is an obvious expy of Madame Medusa from The Rescuers, and by extension, Lickboot is a much more competent Mr. Snoops. Robyn Starling is a pretty obvious expy of Penny too.
- FaceHeel Turn: Dr. Applecheeks. Although he may be Evil All Along.
Robyn: I thought you were a nice man.
- Don't forget that even though he's pretty creepy, Captain Kiddie isn't really a bad guy when we first meet him either. But when he finds out Robyn is worth a fortune, it's all downhill from there.
Captain Kiddie: But I AM, my dear!
Squawk: He'll be even nicer with a million smackaroos!
- Fake-Out Opening: The opening titles of the film are a montage of classic Tom & Jerry gags at high speed, with an awesome jazz soundtrack by Henry Mancini himself.
- Fat Bastard: Aunt Figg and her dog Ferdinand.
- Food Porn: The feast on Aunt Figg's mansion looks appetizing for an animated film; too bad that Tom and Jerry were not able to consume some, if any of them.
- Friendship Song: "Friends to the End" between Tom and Jerry is a song where they sing about their friendship.
- Greed: Seems to be the main motivation of pretty much all of the villains.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Jerry has a pinup girl calendar in his mousehole, with the August page showing a female mouse in a bikini.
- Human-Focused Adaptation: Surprisingly, not on Tom and Jerry. Focused on the human characters, especially Robyn.
- In Name Only: How many ways does this movie deviate from the original shorts? Let's count the ways:
- First, there is very little of the series trademark slapstick in the film. The few times it appears are in the opening, the dinner scene in Aunt Figg's mansion (although that was Figg's wiener dog chasing Tom and Jerry that resulted in it, not the duo themselves) and at the very end. This is also coupled with Tom and Jerry deciding to become friends via song.
- Second, Tom and Jerry talk the whole time, something that only sporadically happened in the original shorts. And the voices in question don't seem to fit the characters at all.
- Third, the movie treats the cat and mouse duo as supporting characters at best when Robyn appears and becomes the central figure of the film.
- Fourth, there are the musical numbers, obviously thrown in to cash in on the Disney musical craze of the early 90's. And no sign of the original Tom and Jerry theme on top of that.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Shortly after meeting Robyn, Tom tries to explain to her how stupid it is from running away from her aunt, just because she vocally abuses her. That's a horrible thing for sure, but her aunt apparently does take care of her (albeit reluctantly), and she's going to reunite with her father anyway, running away just puts her in danger. Tom gets ignored of course. It does seem odd that later Tom and Jerry help her run away after they find out her father is alive.
- Key Confusion: After the villain trap Robyn in a mountain chalet, and locked its only exit, a toppled kerosene lamp starts a fire in the wooden structure, and the villains need to flee. They fight for control of the key ring, breaking it. The two must then scrabble on the floor to find the right key among twenty or so keys.
- Lucky Translation: In the Polish version, aunt Figg calling Robin an orphan fits even better as the word is often used as an insult similar in meaning to "loser".
- Made of Bologna: One of the opening animations show Tom and Jerry dueling with fencing swords. Jerry makes several rapid vertical slashes at Tom, who thinks he came away unscathed. Tom then falls apart in slices like a bologna loaf.
- Missing Mom: Robyn Starling's mom died when she was little, another reason she's the designated Woobie.
- Odd Friendship: About as odd as they come, knowing the history Tom and Jerry have.
- Off-Model: Look at the page picture, what do you see wrong with Jerry?note
- Parental Abandonment: Two examples; Tom and Jerry are left behind by their owners when they move away (and are even still inside the house when it's demolished), and Robyn has a Missing Mom and Disappeared Dad, the former dead, the latter away for most of the film.
- Police are Useless: The cop who returns Robyn to Aunt Figg remains oblivious to the many signs that all is not right in that house.
- Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Dr. Applecheek's 'animal shelter' is more like a jail.
- The Smurfette Principle: Robyn and Aunt Figg are the only female characters in the movie. Everyone else is male.
- Social Services Does Not Exist: Did Robyn even give a statement to the police, or did they just drag her back to the house she was physically struggling to stay away from, no questions asked?
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Poor Tom and Jerry. Every single other character steals the movie from them. Special mention goes to the dog on the skateboard, who steals most of their slapstick.
- Status Quo Is God: Basically, what happens in the final scenes of the movie since the final scene shows they no longer talk and of course continue their chasing of one another.
- Suddenly Voiced: The main reason why this film is criticized.
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Robyn may dress and act in a tomboyish manner, though her prized possession is her mother's locket.
- Villain Song:
- "Money is such a beautiful word..."
- "Yes, animals is our business, A moneymaking business"
- "What do we care about nice?, What do we care about sweet?"
- [technically this, since he's revealed to be a villain later] "I've done it all!"
- The Voiceless: Tom and Jerry, for the first ten minutes of the film anyhow. And, aside from one instance of a scream, the last scene taking place in their new home.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- Tom's owner drives off without him (seemingly unintentional) at the beginning of the film, but never comes back for him. Was she planning on abandoning him the whole time? Or was she that inattentive?
- We never see what happened to Aunt Figg, Lickboot or Ferdinand after they escaped from the cabin and are stuck on the steamboat as it starts, but we can only assume Robyn told her father everything and they were arrested. This is basically true for all the villains (save the bulldog at the beginning, who just runs off, and the singing cat gang, who fall down a manhole). Captain Kiddie and Squawk are left hanging on a bridge, Applecheeks in the Ice Cream Stand floating on the river, and the Straycatchers stuck at the top of a Ferris Wheel. Presumably they were also arrested.
- Wolverine Publicity: It seems like Tom and Jerry were pretty much thrown in as an afterthought just to make people interested in seeing it.
We've got to have...MONEY.