Cats Comedy

Review: ‘Cats’ is a Baffling, Boring Mess

December 20, 2019Sara Clements

Some mess is good mess. Some mess is even entertaining and makes for a cult classic. But if we were to label the kind of mess that is Cats, it would be boring. Simply boring. Which is really surprising for the ridiculous, acid trip-fueled phenomenon that it is.

A hit for theatre audiences because it was so bonkers, Cats is a pop-rock spectacle for which Andrew Lloyd Webber found its inspiration from the cat-obsessed T. S. Eliot's collection of poems, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." It's a play where all the characters are cats — where cats act like cats but also live, work and play like humans. There are different classes of cats, and everything these cats do is hypersexual. Webber and company had their eventual doubts that a play like this would be a fit for the stage, but it proves to be a better fit there than on a movie screen.

There really isn't much to this story. It's about a group of London felines called Jellicle Cats. They're preparing for something called the Jellicle Ball, where it's decided which cat goes to a place called Heaviside Layer to be reborn. Leading this clowder of cats is Francesca Hayward in her first-ever on-screen role. Hayward plays Victoria, an abandoned, graceful ballerina cat who makes a new home with the Jellicles. She's such a talent that it's a shame that she was put in the middle of this disasterpiece. She gets some beautiful dance numbers and her rendition of Taylor Swift's "Beautiful Ghosts" is so touching that it's sad to see the Academy completely overlook it for Best Original Song.

Among the actors joining Hayward on-screen are Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift and Rebel Wilson. However, having such a jam-packed roster of A-list talent doesn't help director Tom Hooper's latest look any less nightmarish. The Jellicles can do many things, but what they can't do is make this digital fur technology appealing in any way. And instead of being able to concentrate on what's going on, your mind is flooding with questions like, "Why do they have human faces and human hands? What's up with their height? Why are they licking milk like that? Do they have to keep rubbing up against each other?"

Otherwise, whether or not the musical numbers will be a hit is ultimately up to the viewer. These sequences do boast excellent choreography, however, the lyrics are hard to comprehend at times amongst all the madness. Suffice to say, Old Deuteronomy explains that "Cats are not dogs." This is definitely true, as we were shown in All Dogs Go to Heaven, but Cats is definitely some kind of hell.

Cats releases December 20th, 2019 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for some rude and suggestive humor. Its runtime is 1 hr. 50 min.

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