Cats is the most baffling movie to hit theatres in decades. There’s a reason it has been called an “unfilmable musical”, but the music in Tom Hooper’s bizarre CGI monstrosity is the least of the movie’s problems.
What is Cats about? I’m still not sure. Cats has been a punchline for years, most-recently showing up as a running joke from “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”, and Hooper’s vision will do nothing to elevate Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. The only awards Cats will be a contender for is the Razzies.
The basic premise of Cats is a musical group of London felines have flocked to the Jellicle Ball to choose the next cat to ascend to Heaviside Layer. What does all this mean? No idea. Aside from having an aimless plot (which can be attributed to the source material), Cats most jaw-dropping moments come from the CGI.
Cats reportedly finished post-production mere hours before the film’s world premiere this week and even upon watching the final product, it seems as though the production got close enough and went, “well, f*** it” and phoned in the rest.
The most astonishing thing about Cats is the cats themselves. Furry bodies with human faces, full lips and hands. Feet that sometimes wear shoes, cats in pants and fur coats and one, Grizabella the Glamour Cat (whatever that is) looks like she rifled through Diana Ross’ wardrobe pile.
Horrors are unleashed when Idris Elba’s Macavity takes off his fur coat and shabby hat to slink around with Taylor Swift in full-breasted cat form. Rebel Wilson’s Jennyanydots inexplicably unzips her own fur to reveal pink hot pants and vest over yet more fur. A raggedy Sir Ian McKellen purrs and drinks out of a saucer with his tongue. As Old Deuteronomy, Dame Judi Dench is dressed in whiskers, a lion-like mane and full-length fur coat, nuzzling fellow actor-cats and breaking the fourth wall in a song that goes on far too long.
Newcomer Francesca Hayward leads the feline ensemble and, luckily for her, the cat whiskers and fur render her unrecognizable. But it’ll be hard for any performer to escape Cats unscathed.
The cats in Cats don’t seem to be fully rendered, at times dancing on top of the background instead of appearing to be part of the CGI world. The size of the cats is also questionable – at times these cats must be palm-sized specimens, dwarfed by a bowl of peas and able to complete elaborate dance numbers on a single iron railway track. They’re smaller than wine bottles and dainty ladies’ watches are large necklaces around their throats.
And then there’s the mice. Tiny mice with children’s faces that live under the sink and are the stuff of nightmares.
The one bright spot in the musical is Jennifer Hudson who reminds us that even if she’s dressed as a forlorn feline, she can still belt out a rousing and emotional rendition of “Memories” before flying away in a chandelier-turned-hot air balloon.
The most shocking thing about Cats is that it’s somehow worse than you imagined it could ever be. Nothing can prepare you for Cats or what it’s like to go home and look your own pet cat in the face, knowing the embarrassment that has fallen upon an entire species.