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Cats...It’s Something

Art by Jillian Mae Machacon

Before going to the theater, I knew that Cats (2019) was essentially a meme in the making and an all-around bad movie in the eyes of critics and the reviews across all media. But what I didn’t expect is for the entire audience and me to be laughing and enjoying ourselves for over an hour and a half at the musical/impromptu-comedy that is Cats.

First, let’s start off with what thought was great about the movie. The choreography was very good from the cast and it’s a shame that it was overshadowed by the film’s mistakes. I know that the music was based on the original musical, but as a person who had never seen it, I genuinely liked the music, even the original songs by Taylor Swift (which was nominated for a Golden Globe, Beautiful Ghosts.)

Cats was directed by Tom Hooper who also directed the multiple-award-winning film, Les Misérables (2012). With a budget of $95 million, you would think that such a movie wouldn’t be so unpopular with its audience, or have such poor box office sales So where did it go wrong? For starters, I had barely any sense of what was going on in the plot, and often wondered why I should care about these singing cats anyway. Of course, it’s a fantasy so it's fair that they don’t explain how some of these cats have magical abilities or what the Heaviside Layer is, but throughout points in the film, the characters suddenly appear in a totally different setting, mid-song, without any explanation as to how they got there. Speaking of setting, there was a mix of conflicting proportions of the set. We know that the film takes place in London, and I liked how some of the sets looked really big in proportion to the cats because it gives it a sense of realism. However, some of the sets made it seem as if cats were the same size as humans, and I wish the movie had stuck to one or the other (preferably the former.)

Next is their cast choices. Rebel Wilson and James Corden were clearly there to serve a comedic effect, but I found their characters not funny or memorable at all. I had trouble trying to comprehend what Jason Derulo and Jennifer Hudson were even saying because their British accents proved to be a challenge for them. Throughout the whole film, one question stuck in the back of my mind: “Why are all these cats so sexually aroused?”. For a movie that’s rated PG, there are many instances where the choreography is filled with this sexual tension, making the movie all the more weirder since I’m looking at a bunch of human-looking cats.

That leads me to what I believe is the film’s biggest mistake, which is simply the look and mannerisms of the characters. Do you remember when the trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog first came out? If you thought Sonic looked bad, Cats takes it to a whole new level of visuals. For a movie that uses so much computer-generated imagery, why didn’t they just make the whole movie an animated film? Speaking from my experience in the theater, everyone in the there was dying of laughter, watching A-list actors like Dame Judi Dench, give a performance while looking like a lion crossbreed that didn’t turn out so well. It’s also known that the cast had gone through so-called, “cat school” where they literally learned how to act like a real cat. If you watch the movie, it is hard to take the film seriously when Sir Ian McKellen is sniffing and hissing at other cats.

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