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Tom & Jerry Director’s Take On The Pair’s Complicated Relationship

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WB’s Tom & Jerry hits select theaters and HBO Max in just eight days, and Variety has published a new interview with director Tim Story (Ride Along, Think Like A Man) where he discusses his love for the classic Hanna-Barbera characters and his take on their relation to each other.

H-B waffled back and forth on what Tom and Jerry thought of one another. In the theatrical shorts they hated each other; in the 1970s Saturday Morning series they were peaceful buddies; on “Tom & Jerry Kids” they were back to ultraviolence, and in the early 90s mess of a movie they were singing and dancing about what great friends they were. Where does Story stand on this?

Surprisingly, he describes Tom’s relation to Jerry as literal relation: “It’s not war, it’s sibling rivalry.” But….but….they can’t possibly have the same mother! This….this changes everything! Biologists are going to be driven mad!

What Story probably meant was that Tom and Jerry can’t stand living in the same vicinity but deep down have an affection for one another, as a brother and sister would…which is still a softening of the core concept. If you want my opinion, Tom and Jerry shouldn’t be friends. Ever.

Predator-prey cartoons work because the prey always wins and they’re cathartic for those of us who live in a world where the predator always wins. When has a fight between a mouse and a cat ever ended favorably for the mouse? Never. Tom is a jerk trying to kill a small rodent who just wants to live in peace, and that’s why it’s okay to laugh at the cat getting pummeled because he’s getting what he deserves.

But if Tom and Jerry are friends, what is the point? More crucially, why would a friend beat you up? It’s just not as funny.

Story says Tom and Jerry was his favorite cartoon growing up, and he wanted to do it justice. “You immediately hit on nostalgia. A big smile comes to your face. The challenge was: How do you translate a 7-minute short into a feature-length format? The script did everything I needed it to do. It was humorous, and it had a human story you could follow.”

We’ve got another week to find out if he succeeded. Tom & Jerry opens in theaters and on living room flatscreens February 26.