In an age when pretty much every film is, “(literally) the worst thing ever,” to someone, somewhere, it takes a special kind of terrible for the internet to actually unite and agree on a movie’s horribleness. In this case, the film is Cats, which, if you believe in a God, will have you doubting your faith, while non-believers will find themselves praying for salvation.
Who is responsible for this?
Here, Hooper seems to have either bought into his own press or gotten drunk on the clout his award-winning efforts have afforded him. To paraphrase an actual disaster movie (as opposed to a disaster of a movie), Cats represents the epitome of a filmmaker so convinced that he could do a thing (like say, putting CGI fur on human actors), he never stopped to consider whether or not he should.
The horror, the horror
While the realities of stage production necessitated that characters be represented by actors in fanciful costumes, there is no excuse for the human-feline monstrosities that this film tries to pass of as, well, cats. All things considered, Hooper should have just put the play’s stylized costumes on the big screen, or even gone with fully-CGI cats to immerse us in the world of the Jellicles, rather than the affronts to God, Man, and aesthetics we are presented with here. In refusing to pick any sort of coherent treatment for the material, Cats is an assault on the senses, vying for your attention in all the worst ways.
Which brings us to the questions.
Whys and Wherefores
And just how big are these cats supposed to be? Even if one were to accept that they live in a world where humans all managed to die off simultaneously, it’s harder to accept the scale issues that see main characters shrink and grow in size as the script requires. One minute, they’ll be at eye-level with doorknobs, the next, cutlery either fits up their sleeves or are as big as baseball bats, while things like dice are the size of oven toasters.
Forget answers, the questions alone may drive one to madness.
Adapting the Musical
Aside from Deutoronomy’s casting (ie. going the James Bond franchise’s route of deciding that having Judi Dench around will only make things better), some of the major adjustments include restructuring the musical to give it a more traditional plot structure. As such, Victoria is less of a glorified extra and (essentially) elevated to our main protagonist, while Grizabella’s disgrace is fleshed out, with Macavity playing pimp/drug pusher to her former whore. Even Taylor Swift’s Bombalurina, who hated Macavity in the play, has been recast as one of his accomplices, but don’t worry – by the time she appears onscreen, you’ll either have walked out already or just given up trying to figure this movie out entirely.
Song and Dance Show
On the music front, the soundtrack is largely faithful to the source material, with two standouts, the first being Hudson’s rendition of “Memory”. Much as he did for Anne Hathaway’s memorable “I Dreamed a Dream” in Les Misérables, Hooper keeps his camera trained on his star, her character’s world-weary emotions raw and palpable, off-putting CGI be damned. Don’t get me wrong – Grizabella’s storyline is still a mess, with her melodramatic, mopey character popping in and out of the film at random, but Hudson knocks this iconic tune out of the park.
The other standout, surprisingly is the Swift and Lloyd Webber collaboration that plays over the end credits, “Beautiful Ghosts”. While not on the caliber of “Memory”, it is a largely decent companion piece to the film’s overall themes and narrative. Either out of respect or as a result of Lloyd Webber’s influence, Swift holds her cloying impulses in check to deliver a moving, radio-friendly piece which inoffensively reminds people that Star Wars isn’t the only thing in cinemas this month.
The Bottom Line
Of course, we could be looking at this in entirely the wrong way – maybe he’s a dog person.
Were you unfortunate enough to catch ‘Cats’ on the big screen? Was it really as bad as people say it is? Tell us what you think in the comments!