“Cats” was directed by Tom Hooper and stars Francesca Hayward, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Jason Derulo, Rebel Wilson and James Corden. The film is based on a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber that is based on old collection of poems T.S. Eliot, all of which are about… cats?
Of note: I haven’t seen the play. I don’t think that should matter when determining the quality of the movie, but I figured it’s worth saying.
Look, this is going to be a NSFW review. Way too much to say to not throw in some profanity. You’ve been warned.
One scene. The way that the “Beautiful Ghosts” song is implemented is the rare quiet, sweet moment this movie has.
Before I get into the specifics of what makes this movie truly special, I figured you should just get some general, pure emotion thoughts from me.
What the fuck is this thing? I mean what in the hell was Hooper thinking? “Cats” is a profounding work in that it manages to be fucking bat shit crazy, while also being strictly annoying and almost never even a little bit of fun from start to finish.
This movie is 110 minutes of pure hell. I’ve never had a worse time in a movie theater in my life.
For starters, this movie is approximately 80 percent introductions. I would wager to guess 90 minutes of runtime is spent on dozens of songs, each going through every single stupid fucking cat as if that is what makes for an interesting storyline. I don’t care about any of them, and I especially do not need a five-minute song on a cat that we almost never fucking see again, but that’s what this movie wastes its time on.
And about these introduction songs: Why are they all so fucking annoying? Are the versions in the play this grading? And it’s not that these are bad singers, they mostly aren’t, but the movie has a habit of making these potentially catchy, semi-decent songs into piles of crap by making each of them sound so insanely similar to the rest.
Because so much of the runtime is spent on these intros, almost every word in the movie is part of a song. Now I love a good musical, of which there have been plenty, but this is just not a good one, or even just a mediocre one. These songs, as annoying as they can be, hurt the most because I have no idea what their fucking points are. Some of them are meant to carry plot points, I think, but instead of gathering key info, I am just left having to pick up any sort of small context clue to have any fucking idea what is happening.
And about that, Hudson’s character of Grizabella, who the hell is she? They vaguely say at the beginning, but by the end I’m supposed to care about her? Why? These questions ruin what could have been a pretty great moment — with the most iconic song the play has — because Hudson is indeed a very good singer, but instead I was just left confused and emotionless.
Hayward is the lead in the film, and as a dancer turned actress, I guess Hooper just told her “fuck it, look with an expression of consistent wonder and you won’t have to say a damn thing,” because that’s exactly what she did.
Here, here’s a shot from the movie:
You see this face? At this exact zoom and this exact expression? Congrats, you have seen 95 percent of the shots with your main character. The camerawork overall in this movie is disgustingly bland, and it makes for just another added layer of tedium, as if the agonizing songs weren’t doing that enough.
You know it’s really bad when I’ve made it this long without even mentioning these visual effects. Who wrote off on this? This CGI is messy, shotty and absolutely horrifying to the eyes, and unlike many movies with an uncharacteristic visual approach, I NEVER got used to it. And as bad as the cat effects are, the attempt to make CGI cockroaches were the very worst effects I have seen in a movie this decade, the very worst.
Up until the very final moments I could not get out of my head the horrors I was seeing in these effects, and it just completely takes you out of any potential emotion you could be getting with the movie. But honestly, because of how much of a barren wasteland the actual plot and development is, that might be more of a pro than con.
Another thing, why are these cats so fucking horny? Hooper may have pushed out some secret fetishes with this direction, because the way these cats all move and look at each other just makes me feel gross, like I’m watching something I’m not supposed to see. I’d appreciate less rubbing on each other and gross tail twitches moving forward, thank you.
Alright, now it’s time to make fun of some actors and musicians who absolutely shit the bed here. Idris Elba, what happened here, man? Were you held hostage? The acting display you put on here is inexcusable, but the horribly written character certainly didn’t you any favors. I mean why does he even want this big prize? This cat can fucking teleport, it makes no god damn sense.
Judi Dench, you are a veteran actress who absolutely did not need this. The bad CGI on your character specifically isn’t on you, but this stiff ass performance is. Sir Ian McKellen. Sir Goddamn Ian McKellen, why?
Rebel Wilson, you have never been worse than you were here. Every scene you were in, even if it was for a brief quip, was worse because you were in it trying to be funny and failing miserably. James Corden, the exact same statement can be said to you.
Jason Derulo: quit acting now. Stick to your subpar pop songs, this should be the end of the big screen for you.
All of these things suck, they suck so, so bad on their own, and all of them happen in less than two hours of the most excruciating filmgoing experience I have ever had. I mean I had to search crucial plot points to a movie I literally just watched to write this review because Hooper — or the play if the play sucks this bad, but if it does, don’t make it into a fucking movie Tom — does such a terrible job literally explaining anything.
What is this thing that all the cats want to go to? What the hell is a jellicle cat? I still couldn’t tell you.
“Cats” sucks. It sucks in a way that isn’t fun, it isn’t enjoyable, it just sucks.
I couldn’t have fun laughing at this monstrosity because I was just so annoyed by it all that it couldn’t even give me a chance to fucking breathe. When the credits began to roll, which came after a super uncomfortable fourth-wall break, my theater erupted into laughter, all of us realizing what we watched was a special pile of garbage.
Well, all of us laughed except for two people, a couple that left 10 minutes into the movie. I envy those people, because what they missed out on was a true masterpiece of awful, a film so painful that I can still hear the ringing of some of those awful songs in my ears now.
This movie is like a fever dream set in the pits of hell. It feels like a drug trip that immediately goes south. It feels like a trash compactor closing in that you can’t escape from, while the only thing you can see are a bunch of horny cats and Idris Elba’s ass cheeks for some reason.
I am a fraction of the man I once was. I’m not sure I can ever go back.
This movie changes you, it takes part of your soul, it turns your brain to fluid. If I never seem fully right again, you’ll know why.