Cats, based on the Broadway play, which is in turn based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, is a walking, mincing, neck-nuzzling, meowing nightmare.
This film has a great deal of star power. Jennifer Hudson’s Grizabella repeatedly shows her tearful face simply to remind you that she exists. (Yes, we see you!) Taylor Swift, who has featured heavily in advertisements, has a body double named Annabelle Strutt who plays the evil henchkitty (this should not even be an idea, let alone a word) Bombalurina for approximately one song over the course of a few minutes. Yet it is Taylor Swift herself who is featured very heavily in promotions for the film. Swift may have realized the lack of potential for the film, as she has completely failed to promote it amongst her fan base. The film also insults and mocks legendary talent with unparalleled vehemence. Poor Sir Ian McKellen! As Asparagus the Theater Cat, he actually licks liquid from a plate in the film! And poor Dame Judy Dench! As Old Deuteronomy, she does the splits! One would think she was above that! It even gets to the point that when Dench says “Would you like to see me make ‘the Jellical choice’,” one has no way to take it but as a threat.
Littered with negative stereotypes. It pokes fun at people with alternate body types, especially Rebel Wilson’s Jennyanydots and James Corden’s Bustopher Jones. Then again, it can’t seem to pinpoint positive body types, either, since all of the characters are the victims of extreme computer-generated manipulation to the point that they are no longer recognizable. In fact, arguably the most disconcerting thing about the entire film is its journey into what is called the “uncanny valley”. Simply put, the uncanny valley is the mental disassociation of the audience from characters who bear a resemblance to humans, but are not human enough with which to empathize. This disassociation is psychologically proven to breed revulsion. Cats cannot seem to choose whether the main characters are to be feline or human; instead, they are grossly disturbing manifestations of computer-generated excess.
Cats lacks a solid plot, as the one it does have is entirely too forced. It follows a clan of cats called the Jellicles as they decide that an overly emotional, CGI-teared cat named Grizabella, portrayed by Jennifer Hudson, deserves to ascend to the Heaviside layer, where she will apparently suffocate and die of radiation poisoning, as the layer in question is an irradiated portion of the ionosphere (look it up). That is about the long and short of the plot.
The “plot” as it were relies entirely too much on deus ex machina plot devices, such as the evil Macavity Cat, played by Idris Elba, keeping protagonists on a barge in the middle of the Thames River, and transporting them there via magical “poofs”. Nonetheless, plot resolution in the film is entirely pointless and fills the least amount of time possible. It comes when Jennyanydots does a “costume change” and freezes herself and the others on the barge in the most formulaic, painfully straightforward confrontation scene in recent memory. Speaking of Macavity Cat, it is quite clear that his character exists solely to add conflict to the film, with absolutely no explanation or reason given.
Similarly, Laurie Davidson’s Mr. Mistoffelees exists solely to save the day, which he does by “poofing” Judy Dench’s Old Deuteronomy back to safety from the barge. Both characters use magic with such nonchalance that one wonders if this is a missing piece of the Harry Potter universe. Furthermore, at multiple points, the film transforms into a nonsensical dance fest. Well, nothing has made sense up to this point, so why should the choreography? As a musical, the film is in very poor taste, as a book of children’s poems made by T.S. Eliot for his godchildren provides a very limited basis for a Broadway play and absolutely no basis whatsoever for a cinematic film.
The size of these cats compared to their surroundings varies from scene to scene, and character to character, meaning that the set design doesn’t make much sense. Sometimes the sets are human environments such as apartments and monuments, but other sets, such as the milk bar and the theater, seem tailor-made for the cats. Costuming, which is a legitimate issue in this film, is similarly pointless. Some of the cats wear clothing, with seemingly no reason given for their wardrobe dysfunction. This selective clothing of the cats is quite unwise and most disconcerting. Then again, judiciousness and subtlety are completely thrown out the window in this film. Case in point, this film has legions of human-faced cockroaches doing the Nazi goose-step for absolutely no reason. It is revolting. And, in a film filled with human-faced cats, human-faced mice, and human-faced cockroaches, we are left with the disturbing realization that there is a complete lack of human-faced humans. In fact, the end of the film is a disturbing sweep of the whole of Trafalgar Square is not a human being in sight, just the main character of this film.
Cats is most unappealing. It is absolute nonsense. If you have the misfortune of sitting down for a viewing, you will spend the entire time wondering what exactly it is that you are watching. Nothing about this film makes sense, but you, the viewer, will feel higher than a kite. This film is entirely too much stress on the eyes, ears, and brain, a string of pointless non-sequitur moments. There are things people simply should not see, and Cats is one of them.