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DVD REVIEW: “Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest”

DVD REVIEW: “Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest”

What if Tom and Jerry teamed with Jonny Quest?  How can stretch-and-squash slapstick combine
with action-adventure?  Warner Bros. Animation
gives us the answers in the recently released direct-to-video feature, Tom
and Jerry: Spy Quest
.

 

To mesh with the world of Tom and Jerry, the Quests are
given broader movements, goofier personalities and exaggerated body
proportions, including Jezebel Jade. 
Especially Jezebel Jade.

 

The story opens on a beach in sunny southern Florida.  Tom and Jerry are engaged in their usual
mayhem, when they cross paths with Jonny Quest, his Indian pal Hadji and their
pet bulldog Bandit, on the run for a trio of cats . . . who fly … wearing armor
… and shoot laser beams … and they talk.  Yes, this is still the slapstick world of Tom
and Jerry.   But the cats work for the nefarious
Dr. Zin. 

 

Race Bannon rescues the gang and they speed to their home on
nearby Quest Key.  Dr. Quest sees nothing
unusual about an anthropomorphic cat and mouse visiting.  He’s completed a project, the Q Sphere, which
can power a small city indefinitely. 
Naturally, Dr. Zin wants the device and sends his hench-cats to fetch it
and Dr. Quest.

 

That evening, Race cooks a feast.  The Quests get chicken and pasta.  Jerry gets a hunk of cheese.  Poor Tom gets a bowl of milk, and so, he goes
to bed hungry.  Later, he sneaks into the
kitchen to raid the refrigerator, but to do that, he shuts off the security
system.  This allows the hench-cats to
enter the Quest lab and do their dirty work. 
Race, Dr. Quest and his Q Sphere are captured.

 

Dr. Zin wants the Q Sphere to empower his “automated battle
island” and attack Washington, DC.  It’s
up to Jonny, Hadji, Bandit, Tom and Jerry to stop him, rescue Race and Dr.
Quest, and save America’s capitol. 
Race’s “spicy little dish,” Jezebel Jade, lends the gang some help—for a
price.

 

Tom and Jerry turn out to be valuable allies, though fraidy
cat Tom has to be motivated by Jerry, while Bandit’s barking scares him into a
frenzy, serving either as a diversion or wiping out the hench-cats in the
process.  This leads Dr. Zin to blame
“that amazing feline” for his successful meddling.  He tells his hench-cats, “I want him shot on
sight.  Bang!”  But this is the world of Tom and Jerry.  Shoot Tom, and he would simply turn bug-eyed
and black.  A cinematic cut would restore
him good-as-new.  Indeed, the next shot
shows him and Jerry crawling out of a hole in the ground, surviving a crash and
an explosion.

Producer-directors Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone, along with
writers Jim Krieg (story and teleplay) and Heath Corson (teleplay),  show they know every trope from Tom and Jerry as well as Jonny Quest.  An entry key reacts like the eyeball from the
Robot Spy.  Jonny flies a skimmer earlier
seen in the episode, “The Fraudulent Volcano.” 
Hadji levitates a rope by playing a tune used as background music from
“The Fraudulent Volcano,” when a man is lowering himself by a rope.  A fresh spin is given to the Quest Jet, in
which we get to see it automatically assemble in a hangar beneath the lab.  A nod to Thunderbirds,
perhaps?

 

The President tells Jonny at a ceremony, “You know, Jonny,
you remind me of myself at your age.” 
And well he should.  The President
is voiced by Tim Matheson, the original Jonny Quest.

 

With this attention to detail, it’s odd the filmmakers did
not use the distinctive barking of the original Bandit.  Also lacking is the JQ signature scream,
“Aieeeeeeeee!”  But we do hear plenty of
whoops from Tom the cat.

 

The actors voicing Dr. Benton Quest (Eric Bauza), Race
Bannon (Michael Hanks) and Jonny (Reese Hartwig) come astonishingly close to
the voices of the original actors (Don Messick, Mike Road and Tim Matheson,
respectively).  Arnie Pantoja voices
Hadji and knows to pronounce “Sim sim sallabim” with a long “e” like original
actor Danny Bravo.  Tia Carrere voices
Jade, lacking the Mae West quality of original actress Cathy Lewis, but she
does have an sultry voice and she sings like dynamite.  One would expect Dr. Zin to have Vic Perrin’s
sinister vocals, but the filmmakers decided to make him a buffoon, and James
Hong has a lot of fun with the “cartoony” version.

 

There are also appearances by Spike the bulldog (voiced by
Spike Brandt), his son Tyke plus a delightful appearance by Droopy (Joe
Alaskey).

 

The production boasts the best crew one can have for an
homage to Tom and Jerry and the Quest gang. 
This includes Quest experts Lance Falk (props), earlier involved with The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest; Steve
Rude (character layout and animation) and Kirk Hanson (storyboard).  Other top veterans include Dan Haskett (character
design, character layout and animation); John McClenahan (character layout and
animation), formerly of Startoons in Chicago; and John Pomeroy (storyboard,
character layout and animation), who years ago left Disney with Don Bluth and
Gary Goldman to make their own productions. 
Other credits are presented here.  The result is lusher-than-usual video animation,
full of personality and charm fans would expect in a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

 

Tying it all together is the underscore by Michael Tavera,
who skillfully shifts between cartoony wackiness and action jazz
throughout.  We get to hear Scott
Bradley’s Tom and Jerry theme, Hoyt Curtin’s Jonny Quest theme, and Jade’s
Theme by Tavera, with lyrics by Spike Brandt.

 

The bonus section includes four shorts from Darrell Van
Citters’ The Tom and Jerry Show, “The
Fraudulent Volcano” from the classic Jonny
Quest
, “Deadly Junket” from the 1986 made-for-syndication revival, plus
trailers to direct-to-videos The
Flintstones and WWE Stone Age Smackdown
, Tom and Jerry: The Lost Dragon, and more.

“Why did I ever make henchmen out of cats?” Dr. Zin
wails.  Who knows?  If there’s a sequel, he’ll probably use them
again.

Tom and Jerry: Spy
Quest
—a mashup fans of both franchises can enjoy.

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