For someone who enjoys a good movie musical, I was nervous to see the “CATS” movie as I did not really enjoy the soundtrack from the original Broadway musical. I went in already skeptical of this movie, but then I thought, “Surely it can’t be that bad if Jennifer Hudson is in it.” However, by the end of the movie, even Jennifer Hudson couldn’t save the monstrosity that is “CATS.”
The plot of this musical already makes no sense, but the movie confused it even more. The premise is essentially that there will be a cat talent show and Judi Dench, who plays the decider cat Old Deuteronomy, will pick who gets to die, go to cat heaven and be reborn into a “better life.”
Now, it wasn’t all bad. There were some parts that were actually tolerable. But I’ll start out with the parts that left me with more questions than I came in with and were simply terrifying.
For starters, the scene with Rebel Wilson is nightmare fuel in and of itself. She played the cat Jennyanydots, who thought she could win the new life based on an over-the-top musical number where she eats cockroaches and belts off-key. Then, Rum Tug Tugger, played by Jason Derulo, comes in and tells her she is trash. This was not a great start to the movie, but it only went further downhill from there.
Over the course of the next 30 minutes of this film, we see the main character Victoria, played by Francesca Hayward, meet the rest of the Jellicle Cat clan, including the main cat villain, Macavity, played by Idris Elba.
Macavity’s entrance is when the plot thickened as he comes in and demonstrates his evil power by making Jennyanydots disappear into his evil lair. The movie then returns to the street when Victoria breaks into an apartment and meets Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, the cat tenants of the apartment who helped Victoria steal some of the human’s jewelry and then flee the scene when the human is returning to their room. At this point, I felt more confused than I ever had when watching a movie.
I can’t even begin to tell you what happened after this, so instead I’ll tell you the other parts of the movie that were simply bad. At one point, James Corden, who played Bustopher Jones, sang a song about how he was fat and how if he was reborn he would be skinny. Idris Elba cat makes him disappear into his evil lair as well and then we don’t hear from either of them for awhile.
One of the absolute worst parts of this movie was Sir Ian McKellan, who played Gus the Theatrical Cat. There was no one point I can choose that was worst, it was just all bad. He is old and should stick to regular acting rather than singing and dancing as a half-cat, half-man.
The movie ended with Judi Dench cat singing/speaking a five-minute long monologue about being nice to cats. At certain points, she looked directly into the camera to stare into your soul, but it came across as awkward instead of endearing like the producers expected. It was a horrible ending to a horrible movie, so it made sense I guess. To make matters worse, I was also lucky enough to see the version of the movie that wasn’t all the way done, so Judi Dench had human hands. And a cat body.
Now, if someone has made it this far into the column, they’re probably wondering when I am going to mention Taylor Swift’s performance in the movie. However, considering she was in the movie a total of five minutes, there is no point in even acknowledging her performance. However, the song she wrote for the film, “Beautiful Ghosts,” was actually one of the better songs from the film.
Going off of that, another good part of the movie was when the Jellicle Cat clan ran into Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, played by Steven McRae. Skimbleshanks’s plan to get to cat heaven was to perform a tap number, which he previewed for the other cats on the railroad as they all followed him while he sang a very catchy song. This part of the movie was actually entertaining and the song was good.
Similarly, later on in the film, the cats all return to the theater where the cat talent show will be hosted and Judi Dench cat has somehow disappeared, so Magical Mr. Mistoffelees cat, played by Laurie Davidson, has to bring her back and all the cats perform a musical number to help him. This was the best song besides “Memory” in the movie because it actually had flavor and made sense to the plot of the movie, unlike a lot of the other songs throughout.
Finally, the scene that included the one song everyone knows, “Memory.” Jennifer Hudson played the exiled cat Grizabella, and is seen throughout the movie watching the other cats from the streets and singing bits and pieces of this song before running away. In this infamous scene, Judi Dench cat finally gives her the chance to sing and then rewards her with the chance for a new life based on her performance.
Although “Memory” did not save the film, it made it better for four minutes as everyone in the movie theater belted alongside Jennifer Hudson and actually gave people hope the movie could be saved before it went into the weird “Judi Dench will kill you with her stare” scene.
Altogether, this movie was extremely unsettling, confusing and underwhelming. My advice to anyone who wants to see this movie would be to not, however, if you simply cannot go without seeing it, don’t go in with high expectations. While it was not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it is definitely not one I would recommend to anyone in the future.