‘Tom and Jerry’: Cringe at all these dreadful live action movie remakes
It’s safe to say the novelty of seeing a beloved animated cartoon transformed into a live-action experience has worn out. What once seemed like a cool celebration of classic stories now feels like a cash-grab designed to milk fandom’s love for certain properties. Are we being too cynical about it? Perhaps, but you can’t say we don’t have reason to be. Your honor, we would like to present Exhibit A: the new Tom and Jerry movie.
On one hand, we should probably be grateful that the 2021 Tom and Jerry movie is actually a mix of animation & live-action. That means we don’t have to suffer through the pain of seeing a realistic depiction of a cat & mouse hurting each other in a myriad of ways. On the other hand . . . well, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – this ain’t. Poor Chloe Moretz & Michael Peña look pretty awkward trying to interact with cartoons.
The Tom and Jerry movie is just the latest entry on a list of disappointing live-action adaptations of popular animated stories. Do you need a refresher on some of the most notable? Let’s see!
The Cat in the Hat
This Dr. Seuss adaptation was unleashed on the world in November 2003, and seen as a sort-of spiritual to the much better Seuss adaptation How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Unlike that 2000 Jim Carrey vehicle, however, The Cat in the Hat was eviscerated by critics and didn’t do that great at the box office either: it grossed $134 million on a $109 million budget.
Most people would agree the main problem at the center of The Cat in the Hat is its star. Mike Myers’s performance is pretty far from what you’d expect if you’re familiar with the source material. Then again, the movie didn’t seem to care about faithfulness when it came to the plot or the sense of humor either. The end result was so bad, it caused Dr. Seuss’s widow to not allow any more live-action adaptations of his work.
Bill Murray as Garfield. How was that not the recipe for a great Garfield live-action adaptation? To be fair, the 2004 movie did well enough at the box office to warrant a sequel (2006’s Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties) but its critical reception was pretty tepid. Even Bill Murray himself has gone on record to say he regrets being part of the project – and we’re not just talking about the joke Murray made about it in Zombieland.
In a 2010 interview with GQ, Bill Murray confessed the reason he took the job was that he thought the script was written by Joel Coen, one half of the acclaimed Coen Brothers. It wasn’t until he was dubbing terrible lines in post-production that the actor realized the writer of the Garfield movie was Joel Cohen. Oh, the difference an “H” makes! Can you imagine a Garfield movie by the Coens?
Alice in Wonderland
Tim Burton’s live-action take on Alice in Wonderland is divisive among critics & audiences. However, most people seem to agree on two things. One: it planted the seeds for the deluge of live-action Disney adaptations we are currently suffering through. Two: Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter was just . . . too much. Yeah, even before we got to the super-cringey break-dance number at the end.
Depp’s super weird Mad Hatter aside, when it came to the live-action Alice in Wonderland, it became a matter of visuals versus story. Some people appreciated Burton’s movie as an inventive 3D feast while others couldn’t get past the generally incoherent storytelling. It’s an argument that would re-emerge time & again whenever live-action adaptations were released.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
We had to mention this one because of how far off the original material it went. Have you seen Fantasia (or Fantasia 2000)? The segment “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” features Mickey Mouse as the titular apprentice, getting into hilarious magical trouble when he borrows his master’s sorcerer’s hat.
So, of course this would inspire a Nicolas Cage action/adventure movie, right? Cage plays the sorcerer and Jay Baruchel plays his apprentice in 2010’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – a movie that has very little to do with Mickey’s Fantasia adventure. To be fair, there’s one scene in the film that references its title’s origin but . . . come on, why not just name it something else?
Will Smith may be a pretty charming guy, but he’s no Robin Williams. That sums up the problems of the 2019 live-action Aladdin – not because Smith’s Genie is at the heart of them, but rather because it’s impossible to watch the movie without comparing it to the animated classic it’s remaking. And the live-action version falls short every single time.
Then again, perhaps you were more positive toward the live-action Aladdin if you hated his animated monkey sidekick Abu (absent from the new version). Or if you always thought Jaffar needed to be more attractive (#HotJaffar). Or if you didn’t care for Iago’s constant yapping and instead wanted to see him turned into a giant monster (okay, that was kinda cool). But most people were underwhelmed.
Do you have any live-action remakes you particularly dislike? Are they better or worse than the Tom and Jerry movie? Let us know in the comments!