Tom & Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes, the latest straight to video feature to star the most famous cat and mouse duo of all time, ups the ante a little bit in terms of the voice actors who work alongside the animated characters that populate the picture. The movie begins when a gang of nefarious jewel thieves are wreaking havoc across London. Having just lifted the famous 'pink diamond,' the local authorities are under pressure to bring them to justice. Enter Sherlock Holmes (voiced by Michael York), who, with some help from his assistant, Jerry the mouse, will wind up involved in this case.
Jerry delivers to Holmes a letter from a woman named Miss Red, a singer dealing with a nasty case of blackmail and who would like the detective's help. He obliges and invites Jerry along to help him out - and also invites Tom along as well, despite the fact that he knows full well how these two are often at one another's throats. Of course, Holmes' faithful right hand man, Watson (Jonathan Rhys-Davis), is also by his side. After meeting Miss Red and doing some preliminary investigative work, he ascertains that Miss Red's blackmailer has to be related to the jewel thieves and somehow traces all of this back to Moriarty (played by Malcolm McDowell), his old arch enemy. With their sites now set on bringing Moriarty in, Holmes and Watson decide to take one approach to the investigation while Tom, Jerry and Miss Red take a decidedly different path - and the race is on.
At roughly fifty minutes in length, this doesn't really qualify as the 'feature' it's been advertised as, but the running time goes by quickly and never feels padded, which is something that extending the fairly flimsy storyline to ninety minutes probably would have resulted in. The pacing is quick, with plenty of sight gags and animated slapstick on display to keep even the most inattentive interested in the movie and the content should certainly appeal to viewers of all ages. The material, as you could probably guess, is geared towards kids and aside from some of the goofy cartoon violence that the long running series is known for, there's no reason it shouldn't go over well as family viewing material. What older viewers will notice is that while much of the feature remains true to the vintage look that made us fall in love with these characters years and years ago, some computerized tweaking and digital animation techniques makes it very clear that this is a slightly more modern take on the characters. It's not so far removed from the older hand drawn material that you won't enjoy it, but the difference is there and it is noticeable.
As far as the voice work goes, most of the bigger celebrity names attached to the project don't really get all that much screen time. Understandably, Tom and Jerry are the two stars of the show and so much of what happens on screen involves them much more so than even Sherlock Holmes himself. When they are given something to work with, however, both Michael York and Malcolm McDowell are great in their respective roles of hero and villain. Rhys-Davies gets the short end of the stick, however, as he really only has a couple of lines of dialogue through the entire movie. Regardless, their involvement in the production adds some fun to the picture, especially for adult viewers who will be familiar with them from other, unrelated projects.
Some nods to older Sherlock Holmes adaptations will amuse those who catch them and an effective score helps to add to the action and mayhem quite nicely. This might not be one you go back to time and time again, but it's certainly a fun time killer with enough entertainment value and decent enough productions values that it's definitely worth seeing for Tom and Jerry fans.
Tom & Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes arrives on DVD in a nice 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that boasts strong and bold color reproduction and a decent amount of detail. Black levels are good and the image is free of any noticeable shimmer or aliasing problems. There aren't any compression artifacts of note and the image is consistently clean and clear looking.
The primary audio track Is a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix in English and like the video quality, it too is quite good. Most of the activity comes from the front of the mix with a lot of good channel separation up front, but the rears kick in only sporadically so don't expect a particularly immersive audio experience. That said, everything is well balanced, clean sounding and very clear and easy to follow. French, Spanish and Portuguese alternate language stereo tracks are provided and subtitles are offered in Portuguese, Spanish and English SDH.
The only real extra on this disc is a brief featurette entitled How To Draw Tom & Jerry, a seven minute segment in which animator Spike Brandt shows us how to create simple renderings of everyone's favorite cat and mouse duo. He makes it look easy, but then again, he's a professional animator. Aside from that, there's a simple menu screen and some trailers for other Warner Brother properties. There's no scene selection menu but the feature is divided into skippable chapters.
Tom & Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes isn't any sort of masterpiece but it's an enjoyable diversion that kids of all ages will appreciate. The duo's patented slapstick antics are still funny after all these years and if this isn't essential viewing, it's at least a fun way to kill an hour. Warner Brothers' DVD release looks decent and sounds fine, even if it is light on extras. Recommended to Tom & Jerry completists, a solid rental for everyone else.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.