The mood for Cats was set when we walked into the theater greeted by grown men and women in cat ears and tails, getting “liquored up” for the experience. Assuring us that they were there “100% ironically,” I was ready to watch the worst movie to hit cinemas since ‘Alita: Battle Angel.’
It lived up to every expectation and then some.
Here is a recap, for the many, many viewers who left the theater baffled and confused. The movie follows the lives of the jellicle, a fictional breed of cats who sing, dance and make viewers uncomfortable with their skin tight catsuits. The protagonist, Victoria (still a cat), played by Francesca Hayward, is abandoned by her owner and enters the jellicle cat community in the midst of a Jellicle Ball. The Jellicle Ball is where cats perform for a chance at winning another life from Old Deuteronomy, played by Judi Dench. In the midst of the singing and dancing, Macavity, the antagonist, kidnaps his cat competition in an attempt to win the life for himself.
This film is rated PG for some rude and suggestive humor, although I was far more offended by Rebel Wilson, who plays Jennyanydots, taking off her “cat skin.”
The director, Tim Hooper, best known for the movie adaptation of Les Miserables, and The Danish Girl, and The King’s Speech, had a very confusing vision throughout the movie. While some actors seemed truly invested and dedicated to the movie, others, namely Rebel Wilson and James Corden, made unsuccessful fourth wall breaks. Grouped with stellar choreography and sub-par CGI, the viewer is truly left to wonder whether or not this movie was intended to be a joke.
The film is ridden with notable celebrities such as Taylor Swift, James Corden, Rebel Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo, Ian McKellen, most known for his role as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings series, and Idris Elba, best known for his roles in The Dark Tower and Hobbs & Shaw. How they managed to stack the cast with such talented people and create such unwatchable garbage is beyond me.
The strongest part of the movie was no doubt the choreography. The choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler, also choreographed the 2016 Cats Broadway revival. Everything was staged phenomenally, and I mean that honestly. Sometimes I was even able to forget about the nightmare-inducing CGI to appreciate the coordination and technique of the trained ballet dancers comprising the ensemble. Personally, I also think the songs were catchy and interesting, but that’s expected from one of the longest-running musicals on Broadway.
This movie had quite a few weak spots. A few of which I have touched on already, such as confusing motives and horrible CGI. One major thing that bothered me the entire movie was the main character, Victoria. Francesca Hayward is a ballerina, and a talented one at that, but her vocals were, lightly put, underwhelming. She didn’t sing too much, but when she did, it was not on par with some of the other talented singers featured in the movie. Her acting left me thoroughly uncomfortable. She looked at every single male character in the movie with the same gaze. The best way I can describe it is lustful, which created a lot of unnecessary, but extremely palpable tension in the theater.
Overall, the movie was, in its simplest form, hard to watch. Moments like Judi Dench staring at you for five minutes at the end of the film and human beings trying to hiss like cats, allowed for communal uncomfortable laughter. However, I would absolutely recommend you see it. Whether this movie goes down in history as a cult classic or disappears into the cinematic world forever, everyone should experience it in theaters while you can.