Cats Movie Review
Unless you were born from the greatest decade ever, you’re probably still trying to figure out what the heck Cats is, or was, or whatever. And that’s okay.
I was still trying to figure it out myself as I departed the Performing Arts Center where I experienced the original (and iconic) Broadway musical in 1992.
I left that experience confused as to why a theatrical performance, that quite literally made no sense, had me singing and dancing to flashbacks of neon lights, Lycra and cat hair.
In retrospect, the answer is quite simple. Dancing cats belting out catchy show tunes beneath neon lights is magical AF.
As far back as I can recall, the melody of “Memory,” always had a kind of hypnotic way about it. As a product of the 80’s I can say with great confidence that few have forgotten its haunting composition.
Likewise, with the live-action Cats movie, few will forget the way Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson) sings the adapted iconic ballad. If not for her exquisite pipes, surely for the emotion that transcended her human (yet oddly feline) eyes.
So what’s with the whole human/feline ensemble in Cats movie anyway?
As it stands now, critics are downright dragging the film’s CGI, as if James Cameron’s Avatar was less unconventional. In my opinion, they’re jumping the bandwagon.
Sure, there’s no doubt that cats walking on two legs (some with lady lumps) is a bit offbeat. But that’s the kind of weird that makes Cats movie so oddly satisfying.
Director Tom Hooper set out to deliver a film that transformed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-shattering stage musical into a cinematic experience. And with the glorious tools of modern film making in play, I’d say he nailed it!
Dancing cats, check. Singing cats, check. Micro plot, check. Fantastical spellbinding and whimsical visuals, check, check.
Overall, Cats was delightfully bizarre yet remarkably spellbinding. From the moment Victoria (Francesca Hayward) made her way out of a sack surrounded by Jellicle cats, every moment of this film is captivating. I definitely wanted to be inside that Milk Bar.
So what is Cats movie about really?
The story follows a simple plot that unpacks the events of one magical night when all the Jellicle cats gather to see who Old Deuteronomy will choose to be given a new and incredible life.
But there are rules…
One of which requires that you must have a soul. Sorry stan Twitter, this means you’re out!
Cats movie delivers not only a whimsical cinematic experience but also a trifecta of humor, drama and mischief with talents such as Rebel Wilson who stars as Jennyanydots (say that three times fast), James Corden as Bustopher Jones, and Laurie Davidson as Mr. Mistoffelees hamming up the plot with their awkwardness and utter clumsiness.
Victoria (Francesca Hayward), Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench), Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson), and Gus the Theater Cat (Ian McKellen) execute their dramatic roles with intrigue. I mean, if you don’t cry watching Jennifer Hudson sing “Memory” then you have no soul. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that disqualifies you for any chance of ever getting a new life, like ever.
Resident villain, Idris Elba (Macavity), buddies up with his sidekick, Miss Americana herself, Taylor Swift (Bombalurina) to ensure his passage to a new life.
While Macavity is filmed in nearly the entire movie, Taylor’s part barely pushes five minutes. Albeit a mesmerizing five minutes of which the two-legged feline minion ascends into the Jellicle lair, gets everyone high, and prances around in heels singing “Macavity”.
Imagine Taylor living her best life, as a cat.
As a puritan Swiftie, It’s fair to say that Taylor channeled her inner Karyn from the Reputation Stadium Tour for this role. And I am living for it.
If a taste of Rep era Taylor isn’t enough to quench your thirst, there’s a definite Easter egg that can be spotted more than once in the film.
I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that Taylor Swift meant it when she said, “Our teacher at cat school, Sarah, saw pictures and videos of my cats — especially Olivia — and sent them to Rebel for inspiration for her cat (Jennyanydots).”
Is there is anything Taylor can’t do?
She also co-wrote the film’s Golden Globe nominated soundtrack single, “Beautiful Ghosts” with Cats creator Andrew Lloyd Webber. The song is undoubtedly a masterpiece. Stream it now on any streaming platform, on repeat, forever.
In the film, the song is perfectly executed by Victoria (Francesca Hayward) with a short clip also performed by Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench).
Cats movie is utterly bizarre and captivating all at once. It will leave you singing in the shower and wishing you were in a Milk Bar. Don’t overthink it. It’s exactly what it’s meant to be, a musical and choreographic masterpiece reimagined with modern film technology, humor, drama and flare.
See Cats movie in theaters this Friday.