Thursday, January 9, 2020
Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merrie Mouse (2012)
Jerry is Robin Hood's messenger deliver letters to Maid Marion (Red Hot Riding Hood from the classic Tex Avery cartoons), who acts as a spy giving Robin all the information he need to thwart the evil plans of Prince John and the Sheriff on Nottingham. The sheriff finds out ab out Jerry, but is unaware who the spy he is communicating with is. He feels that to catch a mouse, he should send a cat. Because of this he sends his own cat Tom to catch Jerry. As anyone who has watched cartoons before can tell you this was not a particularly great idea.
Most Tom and Jerry feature films combine the classic Tom and Jerry slapstick with a more dramatic storyline. This movie is a clear exception. This film is nothing except comedy. Even during the musical numbers that usually slow down these movies, there is slapstick comedy. Robin Hood, Maid Marion, Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham are just as much comic figures as Tom and Jerry are and get to provide some real laughs here. It doesn't hurt that much of this comes from a refreshingly clever script by Hanna-Barera veteran and animation historian Earl Kress. As for Tom and Jerry themselves they are in excellent form, providing some great slapstick. This slapstick is expertly timed by directors Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone. While the slapstick may not be as great as the classic 1940's and 50's shorts (an impossibly high standard), it is quite good on its own terms. In many ways it is reminiscent of the excellent and underrated Tom and Jerry Tales TV series. Like many of the Tom and Jerry direct to video movies this film has Droopy in it as well. Like all the other Tom and Jerry films featuring him, he is a pure delight and provides some good laughs.
This movie still has its faults though. The joke about Prince John being obsessed with money is simply not funny at all. Despite this it becomes a running joke, and it does not become funnier as it goes along. While lots of fun is being had inserting Red and Droopy into this movie, Barney Bear seems completely wasted and the three cat henchmen (also used in some others of these movies) are simply not funny. The songs while livened by some great slapstick are not still very inspired. However all this is beaten by the sheer fun and comic energy of this highly enjoyable movie.
It is worth noting that Jerry had been one of Robin Hood's Merrie Men in the cartoon short Robin Hoodwinked (1958), and that this movie does an excellent job of not copying that earlier film.
-Michael J. Ruhland