“Cats”: A Major CATastrophe.


The CGI in “Cats” is truly atrocious. Cats don’t have fingers, right?

Geoffrey Zhang, Staff Writer

Have you ever wondered what a bunch of human-shaped cats would look like dancing and singing in the middle of London? If so, you’re missing out on the Tom Hooper-directed “masterpiece” that is the movie “Cats”, a nightmarish excuse for a film filled with poorly rendered humanoid cats more reminiscent of sleep paralysis demons than actual cats.

The movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical “Cats” is truly an abomination that no one should ever watch. With a star-studded cast of James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, and Francesca Hayward, the ensemble cast, on the surface, brings much promise to the movie. Adding in famed director Tom Hooper (who directed a critically acclaimed adaptation of another musical—Les Misérables), I went into the movie hoping that it wouldn’t be as bad as critics said it was. Boy, was I wrong.

The main issue with “Cats” immediately presents itself in the opening moments of the movie. The “Cats” are just…not cats. I think the easiest way to describe them is as cat-human hybrids, except all the human features are still there. Now, this wouldn’t be as big of an issue if the cats were actually cat-sized in the movie, but Hooper bafflingly keeps the cats human-sized, making all the human features still visible. To make matters worse, the cats in the movie overemphasize their feline nature, so what you end up with is a mind-numbing experience that makes viewers question every minute why they’re watching furries digging through trash or climbing into windows.

But enough about the CGI. If there’s something that manages to disappoint further, it’s the lacking plot. Sure, “Cats” is adapted from a Broadway musical, but that Broadway musical was based on a poetry collection called Old Possum’s Book of Practical “Cats”. A poetry collection. I can’t necessarily blame the screenwriting team for the exigence behind their story, but there simply is ZERO plot in “Cats”. On the surface, “Cats” is just a collection of cat character introductions, with each feline entrance accompanied by a musical number. The movie starts you off with a song about Jellicle cats, but it isn’t clear what Jellicle cats are. It’s briefly mentioned later on that the Jellicles are competing with each other to decide who gets “reborn” into a new life, gathering every year at a ball where their wise leader makes this decision. Of course, everything I just wrote was explained to me carefully by some of my more Broadway-attuned friends; during the movie all I could do was stare in confusion at what was going on (even beyond the CGI, nothing made sense).

Shall I go on? I will. Let’s talk about the music. It’s subpar at best for a musical. At times, the music and scoring shine with its use of its ensemble cast of singers. “Memory” sung by Jennifer Hudson packs an emotional punch, conjuring up nostalgia in viewers (myself included). But at other times, you get a mix of 80s synth and guitar, which while true to the original musical, seems out of place in a movie marketed for Christmas (now if this was a Halloween movie, I wouldn’t be complaining). The main “Cats” theme can be best described as a Halloween-esque demon-ish track that gives the impression that someone just randomly hit a bunch of keys on a keyboard. I understand that nearly all the music in the movie tries to stay true to the original musical, and if I’m solely grading on that metric, “Cats” does a great job at doing that. But to a general audience who has never watched the musical, the music is just odd and needs a modern update.

So if anyone reading this paper was remotely considering watching “Cats” for fun, for the memes, or was curious, just don’t. That’s the mistake I made with my friends when we decided “Cats” couldn’t possibly be so bad (we would leave 34 minutes into the movie). Even if you aren’t coming for the plot of the movie, the offputting, nightmare-causing CGI coupled with subpar music should deter any moviegoer from coming within fifteen feet of the auditorium for a showing. Go watch “Star Wars” or “Knives Out” instead.