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.