Tom & Jerry: The Magic Ring (2002)

Written by Tim Cahill & Julie McNally, based on the characters created by Joseph Barbera & William Hanna
Directed by James Tim Walker
Starring the Voices of Jeff Bennett, Frank Welker, Charlie Schlatter, Maurice LaMarche, Jim Cummings


Anamorphic: NA; appears in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio

My Advice: Rent It for the kids.

You know the drill. Tom (voiced by Bennett) is a cat. Jerry (voiced by Welker) is a mouse. Thus, they are constantly chasing each other, smacking each other around with any blunt instrument that's handy and basically leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. This is par for the course. The different thing this time around, though, is that Tom is the cat of a faceless sorcerer (voiced by Schlatter) whose prize possession is a powerful magic ring. Tom is given the task of guarding the ring while the sorcerer has to nip over to the subcontinent for some milk. However, Jerry thinks the ring looks rather smashing on him as a crown--but then can't get the blasted thing off. As you might imagine, mayhem does ensue.

The obvious problem one would run into when thinking of a feature-length (or at least, in this case, hour-length) cartoon about Tom & Jerry. The problem is that the original cartoons are roughly five minutes worth of chaos and physical non-damage (mostly to Tom). Now, multiply that by twelve see what I'm getting at. Give the filmmakers a bit of credit--I think this film would be of interest to kids, but they've also tried to stave off the whole elongated premise problem with throwing in some bits for adults. There's guest appearances by old enemies of the duo, along with SDI fave, Droopy, but apart from the brief joy of recognizing the characters--that's about all.

The really big problem I have with the feature itself stems from the extras on the disc--namely, the two original Tom & Jerry shorts--further, the Chuck Jones piece "Haunted Mouse." In my case, I'd give somebody else's right arm to watch a a Tom & Jerry feature film by Chuck Jones. Compared to the five minutes of Jones-directed cartoon, the film just feels stretched and unamusing. It doesn't exactly thrill, but it doesn't offend either. Like I said, maybe kids will really get a kick out of it, probably because they don't remember what the classic shorts are like.

As far as the extras on the disc go, as previously stated--it's so nice to have the two classic shorts, that almost is worth the price of admission. The behind-the-scenes docu, although only about five minutes in length, is nice because it lets us see the voices at work in the studio--including Frank Welker. Anyone who can go from Darkseid to Jerry is impressive as all hell. The "Get the Picture" feature is basically an artist drawing three sketches of Tom & Jerry in time lapse, so I guess it could serve as a how-to if you slowed it way down. The games are simple enough and enterprising youngsters will take about a minute to accomplish each of them.

To sum, it's a decent disc for the kiddies, although I'd much prefer you wait for the classic boxed set than spend your money to own here.

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