It’s hard not to notice lately that the definition of the term “live action” is becoming increasingly muddied, when referring to blockbuster films. The upcoming Lion King, for instance, has been described as “live action” just because its images are photo-realistic, but it’s not as if the filmmakers are shooting footage of literal lions. Everything on screen in The Lion King is computer-generated; thus it cannot be “live action” by definition.
The upcoming Tom and Jerry film from Warner Bros., on the other hand, at least looks like it will partially qualify for the title. According to Collider, Chloë Grace Moretz is in “final negotiations” to join the film as the story’s central human character, Kayla. She would be appearing as herself, as “a new employee at a posh hotel where Jerry takes up residence, threatening to ruin a glamorous wedding.” Kayla then brings in alley cat Tom to catch the mouse, setting up the typical Tom and Jerry formula of comic ultraviolence. The two title characters, however, will be animated—presumably in a more cartoony style, rather than the photorealism of The Lion King, which would likely seem very awkward when interacting with live-action human characters. At least, that’s our assumption—we have no interest in confronting the nightmare fuel of “realistic”-looking cats and mice inflicting slapstick damage on each other.
Moretz will presumably be carrying most of the dialog load, as it is reported that both Tom and Jerry will remain relatively silent, as they did in the original cartoons. The method of live-action actors interacting with cartoon characters, meanwhile, can’t help but draw comparisons to the likes of Space Jam—interesting, given that Warner Animation Group is simultaneously working on Space Jam 2 from producers Ryan Coogler and LeBron James. Does that mean Tom and Jerry is almost a conceptual Space Jam 2 sister film?
Moretz has been on a tear of indie dramas lately, starring in films such as The Miseducation of Cameron Post and the much-publicized but not-released I Love You, Daddy from Louis C.K. She’s also appeared in higher profile roles in Neil Jordan’s thriller Greta and the remake of Suspiria, where her character’s fate kicks off the story’s plot. She’ll be starring in the upcoming Addams Family animated movie as well, portraying the iconic Wednesday Addams. Tom and Jerry certainly seems to fit alongside that particular piece of all-ages entertainment.
Tom and Jerry is directed by Tim Story, and does not yet have an announced production timeline.