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By Alan Ng | December 22, 2019

We have to hate on movies, especially those that take risks, put out creepy trailers, and seek to take on the pretentiousness of Broadway musicals. I get it. It’s fun to make fun of a film that puts itself out there as a target for internet ridicule. Honestly, some of the negative reviews are fun to read. Most, though, are pretty nasty. Tom Hooper’s Cats is one of those films, and I’m here today to give it a much-needed kind, positive review to counter the ones that were written before the film was ever screened.

Just so I’m not wasting your time, if you saw the trailer for Cats and are pre-disposed to hating on it, stop reading because I’m just not going to be able to change your mind. There is some truth behind all the madness surrounding the film. The movie was just not made for you. It does not have broad public appeal, which will clearly limit its box office totals. But what Cats is is the definitive film adaptation of one of Broadway’s most successful musicals.

Based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber play, which is based on a series of T.S. Elliot poems, Cats centers on a cat named Victoria (Francesca Hayward), who we see tied up in a bag and abandoned in the dark, seedy streets of London. Here she is greeted by a large clutter of cats led by Growtiger (Ray Winstone) and Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson). Victoria’s arrival is met by suspicion amongst the pounce, but eventually, she wins their trust.

“…one of the cats is about to earn the honor as the Jellicle choice…Yeah, I know…I don’t get it either.”

Tonight is an important night as one of the cats is about to earn the honor as the Jellicle choice of the Jellicle cats. Yeah, I know…I don’t get it either. Essentially, several of the older cats will perform a song about themselves, and the winner will be proclaimed the “Jellicle Choice” by feline matriarch Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench). Those competing this year are Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson), Bustopher Jones (James Cordon), Rum Tum Tugger (Jason Derulo), Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild), Gus the Theatre Cat (Ian McKellen) and Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson).

To spoil the fun is the evil Macavity (Idris Elba), who plans to kidnap all the contestants, so he would be the only choice to win. He is aided by the sultry Bombalurina (Taylor Swift). Does this film sound crazy to you? Not so much different than a hip-hop musical based on one of our lesser-known Founding Fathers.

I get it, this movie is weird, odd, and strange, but if you saw the trailer or the musical, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. The movie, like the play, is a series of delightful songs strung together by a thin, loose thread of a plot, which lends a little credence to all the criticism and mockery online. But once you know this and have been warned by the trailer, what you’re in for is a remarkably fun time at the movies.

Cats (2019)

Directed: Tom Hooper

Written: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lee Hall, Tom Hooper

Starring: Francesca Hayward, Idris Elba, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, James Cordon, Ray Winstone, Laurie Davidson, Jennifer Hudson, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Cats Image

"…the definitive film adaptation of one of Broadway’s most successful musicals."

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  1. Richard Ross says:

    This was a fantastic musical that was beautiful to watch. I also do not believe they were in the uncanny valley, though, I guess this valley is perception so may differ to some. I would and will watch it again.

  2. Antonio Chavez says:

    The poor, unjust reviews of these movie ruin things for those (like me) who want to see it 20 times or more. I just cant have enough of it, the dancing, staging, acting are done marvelously. The reviewer Alan Ng is right that Francesca Hayward is the main attraction. In one of the screenings I just concentrated in her every move, body and face, and I can assure its a godsend. Other people have commented on watching it again; me too. I am going again and again. Again, like Mr. Ng points out, the dancers are very talented. I just cannot imagine how they invent so many moves to express themselves as a chorus and as individuals with so much grace. My ear is not that sophisticated to find fault with the singing, fortunately for me. If you miss this movie you are missing a true masterpiece of cinema. I am sorry for those who did not like a veritable dish for the eyes, the ears and the spirit.

  3. Suzanne B Conaway says:

    I’ve seen several iterations of “Cats” on stage and a DVD.

    This one was not as bad as I had been led to believe. However, I was turned off of “Les Miz” by Hopper’s overuse of nostril shots. He took it one gross step further with Grizabella’s snot shots. REALLY?? I’ve had 18 cats and none of them ever had snot running out of their nose.

    Francesca Hayward was delightful. Rebel Wilson trying to lick her crotch and eating her cockroaches was disgusting. I’ve see Mr. Mistoffelees as a delightful, magical feline. Laurie Davidson’s sad sack Mistoffelees was a disappointment.

    All in all, I’m glad I saw the movie as a means to compare it to the stage plays. It rated considerably lower.

  4. Michael R. says:

    I agree with this review. I enjoyed the film. Yes it was executed far from perfectly, but what film is, especially musicals. The songs and performances were excellent, very well imagined and creative. When it comes to the musical numbers, cut out out the overused CGI and I would have absolutely no complaints. Yes the plot is bare bones and silly, but I knew that going in since I was familiar with the stage show. Go see it, its worth your time. Dont let the haters win.

  5. Professional Troll says:

    The ill will directed toward this film is difficult to understand. People keep saying the characters look scary or horrifying. I suppose they mean the “uncanny valley” where human beings begin to look like creepy CG zombies. But I just don’t see it. I think they look good. The trailer is very good. I say that as no fan of musicals or dancing. It’s almost like people want to enjoy killing the movie more than taking a risk to enjoy the movie. There’s this bubble of public perception that everyone has to exist in. Thanks for a different take.

  6. Sonia says:

    I liked it! I want to see it again!

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